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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2013 Apr;30(4):471-82. doi: 10.1007/s10585-012-9552-7. Epub 2012 Dec 8.

Nuclear LEF1/TCF4 correlate with poor prognosis but not with nuclear β-catenin in cerebral metastasis of lung adenocarcinomas.

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Department of Hematology/Oncology, University Medical Center Göttingen, 37099 Göttingen, Germany.


An essential function of the transcription factors LEF1/TCF4 in cerebral metastases of lung adenocarcinomas has been described in mouse models, suggesting a WNT/β-catenin effect as potential mechanism. Their role in humans is still unclear, thus we analyzed LEF1, TCF4, β-catenin, and early stage prognostic markers in 25 adenocarcinoma brain metastases using immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC revealed nuclear TCF4 in all adenocarcinoma samples, whereas only 36 % depicted nuclear LEF1 and nuclear β-catenin signals. Samples with nuclear LEF1 as well as high TCF4 (++++) expression were associated with a shorter survival (p = 0.01, HR = 6.68), while nuclear β-catenin had no significant impact on prognosis and did not significantly correlate with nuclear LEF1. High proliferation index Ki67 was associated with shorter survival in late-stage disease (p = 0.03, HR 3.27). Additionally, we generated a LEF1/TCF4 as well as an AXIN2 signature, the latter as representative of WNT/β-catenin activity, following a bioinformatics approach with a gene expression dataset of cerebral metastases in lung adenocarcinoma. To analyze the prognostic relevance in primary lung adenocarcinomas, we applied both signatures to a microarray dataset of 58 primary lung adenocarcinomas. Only the LEF1/TCF4 signature was able to separate clusters with impact on survival (p = 0.01, HR = 0.32). These clusters displayed diverging enrichment patterns of the cell cycle pathway. In conclusion, our data show that LEF1/TCF4, but not β-catenin, have prognostic relevance in primary and cerebrally metastasized human lung adenocarcinomas. In contrast to the previous in vivo findings, these results indicate that LEF1/TCF4 act independently of β-catenin in this setting.

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