Open Access Research article

High expression of ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 2C (UBE2C) correlates with nasopharyngeal carcinoma progression

Zhihua Shen1, Xiaofan Jiang1, Chao Zeng1, Shaojiang Zheng2, Botao Luo1, Yumei Zeng3, Ranran Ding1, Hanguo Jiang1, Qiyi He2, Junli Guo2* and Wei Jie1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology & Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medicine Science, Guangdong Medical College, Zhanjiang, 524023, People’s Republic of China

2 Hainan Provincial Key Laboratory of Tropical Medicine, Hainan Medical College, Haikou, 571199, People’s Republic of China

3 Department of Pathology, People’s Hospital of Zhongshan City, Zhongshan, 528400, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:192  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-192

Published: 15 April 2013



Overexpression of ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 2C (UBE2C) has been detected in many types of human cancers, and is correlated with tumor malignancy. However, the role of UBE2C in human nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of aberrant UBE2C expression in the progression of human NPC.


Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to detect UBE2C protein in clinical samples of NPC and benign nasopharyngeal tissues, and the association of UBE2C expression with patient clinicopathological characteristics was analyzed. UBEC2 expression profiles were evaluated in cell lines representing varying differentiated stages of NPC and immortalized nasopharyngeal epithelia NP-69 cells using quantitative RT-PCR, western blotting and fluorescent staining. Furthermore, UBE2C was knocked down using RNA interference in these cell lines and proliferation and cell cycle distribution was investigated.


Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that UBE2C protein expression levels were higher in NPC tissues than in benign nasopharyngeal tissues (P<0.001). Moreover, high UBE2C protein expression was positively correlated with tumor size (P=0.017), lymph node metastasis (P=0.016) and distant metastasis (P=0.015) in NPC patients. In vitro experiments demonstrated that UBE2C expression levels were inversely correlated with the degree of differentiation of NPC cell lines, whereas UBE2C displayed low level of expression in NP-69 cells. Knockdown of UBE2C led to significant arrest at the S and G2/M phases of the cell cycle, and decreased cell proliferation was observed in poorly-differentiated CNE2Z NPC cells and undifferentiated C666-1 cells, but not in well-differentiated CNE1 and immortalized NP-69 cells.


Our findings suggest that high expression of UBE2C in human NPC is closely related to tumor malignancy, and may be a potential marker for NPC progression.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 2C; Progression; Proliferation; Cell cycle