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Int J Oncol. 2012 Dec;41(6):1985-95. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2012.1673. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

T-box transcription factor Brachyury expression is correlated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition and lymph node metastasis in oral squamous cell carcinoma.

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Division of Maxillofacial Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Kyushu University, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


The prognosis of patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is influenced by the presence of lymph node metastasis. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process that involves events that convert adherent epithelial cells into individual migratory cells that can invade the extracellular matrix, is critical for cancer progression. Recently, the T-box transcription factor Brachyury was reported to promote EMT in human carcinoma cell lines. We analyzed the relationship between EMT (assessed by staining for E-cadherin and Vimentin) and the expression of Brachyury in association with lymph node metastasis in oral SCC. Oral SCC biopsy specimens (152 cases) were examined immunohistochemically for the expression of E-cadherin, Vimentin and Brachyury. Expression of Brachyury was correlated with EMT (p=0.035) and was significantly associated with lymph node and distant metastasis (p<0.05). Logistic regression analysis showed that Brachyury and EMT were predictive factors for lymph node metastasis (odds ratio 4.390 and 5.936, respectively) and that EMT was a predictive factor for distant metastases (odds ratio 11.786). Our findings present clinical evidence for an important role of Brachyury in EMT in oral SCC, and suggest that Brachyury and EMT patterns are useful prognostic markers.

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