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Pathol Res Pract. 2012 Jul 15;208(7):398-404. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2012.05.009. Epub 2012 Jun 2.

pERK activation in esophageal carcinomas: clinicopathological associations.

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1st Department of Pathology, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 75 Mikras Assias, Goudi 11527, Greece.


MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathway is considered a control regulator in various malignant tumors but its role in esophageal carcinomas remains elusive. In our study, we examined the possible prognostic significance of MAPK pathway in human esophageal cancer. We searched for mutations in exons 18-21 of EGFR gene, codons 12 and 13 of K-RAS gene and exon 15 of B-RAF gene by high resolution melting analysis (HRMA) and pyrosequencing in 44 esophageal carcinomas. Immunohistochemistry was performed in 29 cases in order to evaluate expression levels of pERK (extracellular-signal regulated kinase). In one laser microdissected squamous cell carcinoma, a somatic K-RAS mutation at codon 12 was detected, whereas none of the cases displayed mutations in EGFR and B-RAF genes. Elevated nuclear as well as cytoplasmic pERK expression (100% and 62% of cases respectively) was observed independently of EGFR and B-RAF mutational status. Increasing pERK nuclear and cytoplasmic expression as well as the intensity of nuclear staining was found to be significantly correlated with tumor grade in univariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Our findings depict the presence of activated ERK despite the low frequency of upstream alterations, implicating ERK activation in the acquisition of a more aggressive phenotype in esophageal cancer.

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