Gene expression profiling to identify markers associated with deregulated hTERT in HPV-transformed keratinocytes and cervical cancer


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Abstract

Although high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection plays a major role in the development of cervical cancer, additive oncogenic events are involved as well. One key event involves increased activity of telomerase resulting from a deregulated expression of its catalytic subunit hTERT. Our previous microcell-mediated chromosome transfer studies revealed that introduction of human chromosome 6 in the HPV16-immortalized keratinocyte cell line FK16A and in the HPV16-containing cervical cancer cell line SiHa induced growth arrest, resulting from a repression of hTERT mRNA expression and telomerase activity. Here, this model was used to analyze expression profiles associated with hTERT deregulation in HPV-transformed cells. Microarray expression analysis of 12 FK16A/chromosome 6 hybrids, 4 of which were negative for endogenous hTERT and 8 of which were positive for endogenous hTERT, resulted in the identification of 164 differentially expressed genes. Differential expression of a selection of 5 genes was verified by real-time RT-PCR. Of these 164 genes, 32 were also differentially expressed in other HPV transformed cells with deregulated hTERT. For 2 of these genes, encoding AQP3 and MGP, altered expression in hTERT positive cervical carcinomas was confirmed by real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, respectively. Moreover, increased MGP protein expression was significantly more frequent in high-grade cervical premalignant lesions with elevated hTERT mRNA expression compared to those without. In summary, we identified 32 candidate biomarkers for deregulated hTERT mRNA expression, which may enable the identification of cervical premalignant lesions that are at highest risk to progress to invasive cancer.

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