Loss of p16(INK4a) is associated with reduced patient survival in soft tissue tumours, and indicates a senescence barrier

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Abstract

Aims

p16(INK4a) is an important factor in carcinogenesis, and its expression is linked to oncogene-induced senescence. Very recently it was shown that upregulation and downregulation of p16 indicates a senescence barrier in the serrated route of colorectal cancer. However, in soft tissue sarcoma (STS), the senescence mechanism is still not understood. In this study, we analysed a well characterised cohort of STS for p16(INK4a) expression and correlated the results with clinicopathological parameters including survival.

Methods

Tissue microarrays (TMA) of 183 soft tissue and bone tumours were analysed immunohistochemically. Furthermore, mRNA expression of p16(INK4a) was evaluated in four sarcoma cell lines, and a demethylation test was performed by treatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytide.

Results

On protein level, expression of p16(INK4a) was observed in undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) in 69.1%, leiomyosarcoma in 85.7%, synovial sarcoma in 77.8%, liposarcoma in 88.9%, angiosarcoma in 60.9% and MPNST in 22.2%. Loss of p16(INK4a) was observed in high grade sarcomas and showed a significant correlation with reduced patient survival (p=0.032). On DNA level, one out of four sarcoma cell lines exhibited a methylated p16(INK4a) promoter analysed by methylation-specific PCR. p16(INK4a) mRNA and protein expression was restored after demethylation using 5-aza-2′-deoxycytide.

Conclusions

Upregulation of p16(INK4a) might be associated with the induction of senescence and indicates a senescence barrier. Downregulation of p16(INK4a) is found in malignant progression, and is significantly correlated with reduced patient survival. Downregulation of p16(INK4a) may be explained by DNA-hypermethylation in sarcoma cells.

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