Expression and localisation of methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (MTAP) in oral squamous cell carcinoma and their significance in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

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Pathology. 2021 Sep 10:S0031-3025(21)00430-X. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2021.05.101. Online ahead of print.


Methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (MTAP) is a rate-limiting enzyme in the methionine salvage pathway, which recycles one carbon unit that is lost during polyamine synthesis back into the methionine cycle. Although MTAP deficiency has been reported in various tumours, MTAP is overexpressed and might promote oncogenesis in other cancers, including prostate and colon cancer. Currently, little is known about the MTAP status of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). In this study, we immunohistochemically examined the expression of MTAP in surgically resected oral epithelial dysplasia (OED, n=7), carcinoma in situ (CIS) (n=16), and OSCC (n=118). In the normal epithelium, MTAP was only weakly expressed in the cytoplasm of the basal layer cells. In OED, CIS, and OSCC, MTAP was uniformly expressed in the cytoplasm of the dysplastic and cancer cells. In addition to cytoplasmic MTAP expression, 45 of 118 cases (38.1%) exhibited increased nuclear expression of MTAP in the cancer cells at the invasive front. Statistical analysis showed that the concomitant nuclear and cytoplasmic expression of MTAP was associated with a high budding score (p=0.0023); poor differentiation (p=0.0044); aggressive invasion patterns (p=0.0001); and features of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), such as loss of E-cadherin expression (p=0.0003) and upregulated expression of vimentin (p=0.0002), slug (p=0.0002), and laminin 5 (p<0.0001). High expression of protein arginine methyltransferase 1 or 5, the functions of which are reported to be inhibited in MTAP-deficient cancer, was associated with the concomitant nuclear and cytoplasmic expression of MTAP (p<0.0001). Concomitant nuclear and cytoplasmic expression of MTAP was marginally significantly associated with worse 5-year relapse-free survival (p=0.045). These findings suggest that MTAP not only plays a role in the oncogenesis of OSCC, but that it might also make it more aggressive by inducing EMT through its activity in the methionine salvage pathway.

PMID:34518040 | DOI:10.1016/j.pathol.2021.05.101