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Lab Invest. 2017 Sep;97(9):1095-1102. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2017.54. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

EMMPRIN (CD147) is induced by C/EBPβ and is differentially expressed in ALK+ and ALK- anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

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Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology and Comprehensive Cancer Center Tübingen, University Hospital Tübingen, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany.
Departamento de Patología, Centro Médico ABC (The American British Cowdray Medical Center), Mexico City, Mexico.
Hematopathology Section, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel/Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive (ALK+) anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) is characterized by expression of oncogenic ALK fusion proteins due to the translocation t(2;5)(p23;q35) or variants. Although genotypically a T-cell lymphoma, ALK+ ALCL cells frequently show loss of T-cell-specific surface antigens and expression of monocytic markers. C/EBPβ, a transcription factor constitutively overexpressed in ALK+ ALCL cells, has been shown to play an important role in the activation and differentiation of macrophages and is furthermore capable of transdifferentiating B-cell and T-cell progenitors to macrophages in vitro. To analyze the role of C/EBPβ for the unusual phenotype of ALK+ ALCL cells, C/EBPβ was knocked down by RNA interference in two ALK+ ALCL cell lines, and surface antigen expression profiles of these cell lines were generated using a Human Cell Surface Marker Screening Panel (BD Biosciences). Interesting candidate antigens were further analyzed by immunohistochemistry in primary ALCL ALK+ and ALK- cases. Antigen expression profiling revealed marked changes in the expression of the activation markers CD25, CD30, CD98, CD147, and CD227 after C/EBPβ knockdown. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed a strong, membranous CD147 (EMMPRIN) expression in ALK+ ALCL cases. In contrast, ALK- ALCL cases showed a weaker CD147 expression. CD274 or PD-L1, an immune inhibitory receptor ligand, was downregulated after C/EBPβ knockdown. PD-L1 also showed stronger expression in ALK+ ALCL compared with ALK- ALCL, suggesting an additional role of C/EBPβ in ALK+ ALCL in generating an immunosuppressive environment. Finally, no expression changes of T-cell or monocytic markers were detected. In conclusion, surface antigen expression profiling demonstrates that C/EBPβ plays a critical role in the activation state of ALK+ ALCL cells and reveals CD147 and PD-L1 as important downstream targets. The multiple roles of CD147 in migration, adhesion, and invasion, as well as T-cell activation and proliferation suggest its involvement in the pathogenesis of ALCL.

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