p21 is associated with cyclin D1, p16INK4a and pRb expression in resectable non-small cell lung cancer.
- S Vonlanthen
- J Heighway
- A Kappeler
- H J Altermatt
- M M Borner
- D C Betticher
Affiliations: Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, 3010 Bern, Switzerland.
- Published online on: May 1, 2000 https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.16.5.951
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p21 (p21WAF1/CIP1) is involved in cell cycle regulation, as an inhibitor of cyclin dependent kinases (CDK2, CDK4 and CDK6). However, subsequent in vitro studies have suggested that p21 may influence this process by an additional mechanism, in particular through the regulation of cyclin D1 subcellular localisation. This study of primary resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was designed to examine p21 functions in association with the expression of cyclin D1 (including its subcellular localisation), p16INK4a and pRb. p21 expression was examined in 50 NSCLC (stage I-IIIA) and in several normal lung samples all of which had previously been studied for cyclin D1 (DNA, RT-PCR, immunostaining), p16INK4a (DNA, RT-PCR, immunostaining), and pRb (immunostaining). As assessed by immunoblotting and immunostaining, p21 was expressed at low levels in normal lung tissue with immunoreactivity seen in a small number of bronchial epithelial cells only. In NSCLC, p21 expression (> or =10% of positive cells) was observed in 42% (21/50) of cases. High p21 expression was associated with well differentiated tumours (p = 0.01) and cyclin D1 nuclear staining (p = 0.02). Furthermore, we found an inverse correlation with p16INK4a (p = 0.004) and a direct correlation with pRb expression (p = 0.02). Risk of relapse was associated with p16INK4a and p21 status with no relapse in patients with normal p16INK4a and p21. Our results confirm that a large number of NSCLC have a low level of p21 expression. The associations of p21 and nuclear cyclin D1, pRb, p16INK4a support the relevance of pathways linked to lung carcinogenesis that involve p21 but may act in addition to direct CDK inhibition.