SummaryBackground Mutations of the patched (Ptc) gene, a developmental regulator implicated in the signalling pathway via sonic hedgehog (Shh) and smoothened (Smo), play an essential pathogenic role in the development of basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). We previously reported the upregulation of Shh signal transducers, including Ptc, Smo and hedgehog-interacting protein, in BCCs. In vertebrates, specific downstream effectors in the Shh signalling pathway include three zinc-finger transcription factors, Gli1, Gli2 and Gli3. Gli1 possesses only an activation domain, while Gli2 and Gli3 contain both activation and repression domains. It remains unclear which of these transcription factors are responsible for the development of BCCs.
Objectives To examine the expression pattern of Gli2 mRNA by human BCCs in comparison with those by normal human skin and various skin tumours.
Methods We performed quantitative reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction analyses with a series of samples from BCCs, other skin tumours and normal skin.
Results We found that Gli2 mRNA expression was enhanced in the BCCs we examined, whereas there was no significant increase in other skin tumours or normal skin. Of four spliced Gli2 isoforms designated Gli2α, β, γ and δ, the expression of Gli2β mRNA was increased the most in BCCs.
Conclusions As Gli2β is an isoform spliced at the first splicing site containing a repression domain and consists of an intact activation domain, its overexpression may lead to the upregulation of the Shh signalling pathway, thereby inducing BCCs.