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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Molecular characterization of EGFR, PDGFRA and VEGFR2 in cervical adenosquamous carcinoma

Adhemar Longatto-Filho12*, Céline Pinheiro1, Olga Martinho1, Marise AR Moreira3, Luiz FJ Ribeiro4, Geraldo S Queiroz4, Fernando C Schmitt56, Fátima Baltazar1 and Rui M Reis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health Sciences, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

2 Instituto Adolfo Lutz, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

3 Department of Pathology of the School of Medicine of the Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Go, Brazil

4 Hospital Araújo Jorge, Goiânia, Go, Brazil

5 IPATIMUP, Porto, Portugal

6 School of Medicine of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:212  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-212

Published: 29 June 2009

Abstract

Background

Adenosquamous carcinoma of the uterine cervix is an infrequent but aggressive subtype of cervical cancer. A better understanding of its biological behaviour is warranted to define more accurate prognosis and therapeutic targets. Currently, the blockage of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTKs) activity is an efficient therapeutic strategy for many different cancers. The objective of this study was to investigate EGFR, PDGFRA and VEGFR2 RTKs overexpression and activating gene mutations in a cohort of 30 adenosquamous carcinomas of the uterine cervix.

Methods

EGFR, PDGFRA and VEGFR2 immunohistochemistry was performed in all samples, followed by DNA isolation from the gross macroscopically dissection of the neoplastic area. Screening for EGFR (exons 18–21) and PDGFRA (exons 12, 14 and 18) mutations was done by PCR – single-strand conformational polymorphism (PCR-SSCP).

Results

Despite the presence of EGFR immunohistochemical positive reactions in 43% (13/30) of the samples, no EGFR activating mutations in the hotspot region (exons 18–21) were identified. A silent base substitution (CAG>CAA) in EGFR exon 20 at codon 787 (Q787Q) was found in 17 cases (56%). All PDGFRA immunohistochemical reactions were positive and consistently observed in the stromal component, staining fibroblasts and endothelial cells, as well as in the cytoplasm of malignant cells. No activating PDGFRA mutations were found, yet, several silent mutations were observed, such as a base substitution in exon 12 (CCA>CCG) at codon 567 (P567P) in 9 cases and in exon 18 (GTC>GTT) at codon 824 (V824V) in 4 cases. We also observed the presence of base substitutions in intron 14 (IVS14+3G>A and IVS14+49G>A) in two different cases, and in intron 18 (IVS18-50insA) in 4 cases. VEGFR2 positivity was observed in 22 of 30 cases (73.3%), and was significantly associated with lack of metastasis (p = 0.038).

Conclusion

This is the most extensive analysis of EGFR, PDGFRA and VEGFR2 in cervical adenosquamous carcinomas. Despite the absence of EGFR and PDGFRA activating mutations, the presence of overexpression of these three important therapeutic targets in a subset of cases may be important in predicting the sensitivity of adenosquamous carcinoma to specific anti-RTKs drugs.