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Keywords:

  • ZBTB7A;
  • Pokemon;
  • p14ARF;
  • amplification;
  • overexpression;
  • differential PCR;
  • lung cancer

Abstract

ZBTB7A (Pokemon) is a member of the POK family of transcriptional repressors. Its main function is the suppression of the p14ARF tumour suppressor gene. Although ZBTB7A expression has been found to be increased in various types of lymphoma, there are no reports dealing with its expression in solid tumours. Given that p14ARF inhibits MDM2, the main negative regulator of p53, we hypothesized that overexpression of ZBTB7A could lead indirectly to p53 inactivation. To this end, we examined the status of ZBTB7A and its relationship with tumour kinetics (proliferation and apoptosis) and nodal members of the p53 network in a panel of 83 non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs). We observed, in the majority of the samples, prominent expression of ZBTB7A in the cancerous areas compared to negligible presence in the adjacent normal tissue elements. Gene amplification (two- to five-fold) was found in 27.7% of the cases, denoting its significance as a mechanism driving ZBTB7A overproduction in NSCLCs. In the remaining non-amplified group of carcinomas, analysis of the mRNA and protein expression patterns suggested that deregulation at the transcriptional and post-translational level accounts for ZBTB7A overexpression. Proliferation was associated with ZBTB7A expression (p = 0.033) but not apoptosis. The association with proliferation was reflected in the positive correlation between ZBTB7A expression and tumour size (p = 0.018). The overexpression of ZBTB7A in both p53 mutant and p53 wild-type cases, implies either a synergistic effect or that ZBTB7A exerts its oncogenic properties independently of the p14ARF–MDM2–p53 axis. The concomitant expression of ZBTB7A with p14ARF (p = 0.039), instead of the anticipated inverse relation, supports the latter notion. In conclusion, regardless of the pathway followed, the distinct expression of ZBTB7A in cancerous areas and the association with proliferation and tumour size pinpoints a role for this novel cell cycle regulator in the pathogenesis of lung cancer. Copyright © 2007 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.