HOX transcription factors are potential therapeutic targets in non-small-cell lung cancer (targeting HOX genes in lung cancer)
We hypothesized that the disordered tissue architecture in cancer results from the cells executing the program designed during ontogeny in a spatio-temporally inappropriate manner. HOX genes are known as master regulators of embryonic morphogenesis, and encode transcription factors which regulate the transcription of the downstream genes to realize the program of body plan. In this study, we quantified the expression levels of 39 HOX genes in 41 human non-small cell lung cancer (non-SCLC) and non-cancerous lung tissues by a comprehensive analysis system based on the real-time RT-PCR method. We found that the expression levels of HOXA1, A5, A10 and C6 in squamous cell carcinoma tissues (and HOXA5 and A10 in adenocarcinoma tissues) were significantly higher than those in the non-cancerous tissues. Comparison of HOX gene expressions between adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma tissues showed higher expressions of HOXA1, D9, D10 and D11 in squamous cell carcinoma tissues than in adenocarcinoma tissues. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that HOXA5 and A10 proteins were localized in the cytoplasm of tumor cells in both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma tissues. These results suggest that the disordered patterns of HOX gene expressions were involved not only in the development of non-SCLC but also in the histologically aberrant diversity such as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.