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Expression of human Piwi-like genes is associated with prognosis for soft tissue sarcoma patients

Thomas Greither1, Franziska Koser2, Matthias Kappler2, Matthias Bache3, Christine Lautenschläger4, Steffen Göbel5, Hans-Jürgen Holzhausen6, Sven Wach78, Peter Würl9 and Helge Taubert1078*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Plastic Surgery, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

3 Department of Radiotherapy, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

4 Institute of Medical Biometry and Informatics, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

5 Institute of Transfusion Medicine, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

6 Institute of Pathology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

7 Div. Molecular Urology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, University Clinic of Urology, Erlangen, Germany

8 Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Center for Molecular Medicine, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

9 Department of General and Visceral Surgery, Diakoniekrankenhaus Halle, Halle, Germany

10 Klinik für Urologie und NFZ, FAU Erlangen, Glückstr. 6, D-91054, Erlangen, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:272  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-272

Published: 29 June 2012



Argonaute genes are essential for RNA interference, stem cell maintenance and differentiation. The Piwi-like genes, a subclass of the Argonaute genes, are expressed mainly in the germline. These genes may be re-expressed in tumors, and expression of the Piwi-like genes is associated with prognosis in several types of tumors.


We measured the expression of Piwi-like mRNAs (Piwi-like 24) in 125 soft tissue sarcoma (STS) samples by qPCRs. Statistical tests were applied to study the correlation of expression levels with tumor-specific survival for STS patients.


In multivariate Cox’s regression analyses, we showed that low Piwi-like 2 and Piwi-like 4 mRNA expression were significantly associated with a worse prognosis (RR = 1.87; p = 0.032 and RR = 1.82; p = 0.039). Low expression of both genes was associated with a 2.58-fold increased risk of tumor-related death (p = 0.01). Piwi-like 4 and combined Piwi-like 2 and 4 mRNA levels correlated significantly with prognosis (RR = 3.53; p = 0.002 and RR = 5.23; p = 0.004) only for female but not for male patients. However, combined low Piwi-like 2 and 3 transcript levels were associated with worse survival (RR = 5.90; p = 0.02) for male patients.


In this study, we identified a significant association between the expression of Piwi-like 2 and 4 mRNAs and the tumor-specific survival of soft tissue sarcoma patients. Furthermore, a connection between sex and the impact of Piwi-like mRNA expressions on STS patients’ prognosis was shown for the first time.