Hypothesis Increased cell motility is a hallmark of cancer cells. Proteins involved in cell motility may be used as molecular markers to characterize the malignant potential of tumors.
Methods Molecular biology and immunohistochemistry techniques were used to investigate the expression of a selected panel of motility-related proteins (Rho A, Rac 2, Cdc42, PI(3)K, 2E4, and Arp2) in normal, premalignant, and squamous cell cancer cell lines of human head and neck origin. To assess the clinical potential of these proteins as molecular markers for cancer, immunohistochemistry was performed on paraffin-fixed head and neck cancer specimens (n = 15).
Results All six motility-associated proteins were overexpressed in the premalignant and squamous cell cancer cell lines relative to normal keratinocytes. Immunohistochemistry with Rho A and Rac 2 showed increased staining in areas of cancer but not in normal tissue.
Conclusion Proteins involved in cell motility can be used as markers for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The head and neck cell lines used in this study may be used as a model to further investigate cell motility. Molecular markers of motility could have a significant impact on the diagnosis and staging of cancers originating from differentiated non-motile cells.