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Extra-Cellular Signal-Regulated ERK-1/ERK-2 Pathway Activation in Human Salivary Gland Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma:Association to Aggressive Tumor Behavior and Tumor Cell Proliferation

American Journal Of Pathology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0002-9440(10)63455-4
  • Erk-1/Erk-2 Activation In Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Information on oncogenetic events accompanying salivary gland mucoepidermoid carcinoma is so far limited. Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases ERK-1 and ERK-2 is strongly correlated to cancer. Using an antibody specific for phosphorylated (active) ERK-1/ERK-2, we examined human salivary gland mucoepidermoid carcinoma samples by immunohistochemistry. The comparison in paired tumor and normal tissue samples showed that phosphorylated ERK-1/ERK-2 immunoreactivity was higher in tumor cells as compared to surrounding normal salivary parenchyma. ERK-1/ERK-2 phosphorylation was observed in ∼39% of mucoepidermoid carcinomas. Those tumors where the ERK-1/ERK-2 pathway was activated had a more aggressive tumor behavior as compared to the group where this pathway was inactive. The association of ERK-1/ERK-2 phosphorylation to a worse prognosis was independent of histological grade. ERK-1/ERK-2 phosphorylation was associated with increased Ki67 and cyclin A indexes, which indicated that ERK-1/ERK-2 pathway activation increased tumor cell proliferation. There was no relationship between ERK-1/ERK-2 phosphorylation and HER-2/neu or p16/INK4a protein expression. In conclusion, ERK-1/ERK-2 pathway is active in salivary gland mucoepidermoid carcinoma and this activation is associated to a more aggressive tumor behavior and a higher proliferative activity. These data suggest that deregulation of ERK-1/ERK-2 pathway contributes to mucoepidermoid carcinoma phenotype and, possibly, represents a target for new anticancer drugs.

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