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Overexpression of transferrin receptor CD71 and its tumorigenic properties in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

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Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the predominant type of esophageal cancer in endemic Asian regions. In the present study, we investigated the clinical implication and role of transferrin receptor CD71 in ESCC. CD71 has a physiological role in cellular iron intake and is implicated in the carcinogenesis of various types of tumors. In our cohort, more than a 2-fold upregulation of the CD71 transcript was detected in 61.5% of patients using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemical analysis also showed strong membranous and cytoplasmic localization of CD71 in paraffin-embedded tumors. Staining parallel tumor sections with the proliferative marker Ki-67 revealed that the pattern of Ki-67 staining was associated with CD71 expression. Analysis of clinicopathological data indicated that CD71 overexpression can be used as an indicator for advanced T4 stage (p=0.0307). These data suggested a strong link between CD71 and ESCC. Subsequent in vitro assays using short interfering RNA (siRNA) to suppress CD71 expression confirmed the tumorigenic properties of CD71 in ESCC; cell growth inhibition and cell cycle arrest at S phase were observed in CD71-suppressed cells. The underlying mechanism involved activation of the MEK/ERK pathway. In summary, the present study provides evidence showing the tumorigenic properties of CD71 in ESCC with clinical correlations and suggests targeting CD71 as a strategy for the treatment of ESCC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, P.R. China

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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