Author(s): Yamaoka H, Ohtsu K, Sueda T, Yokoyama T, Hiyama E
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Abstract Hepatoblastoma (HBL), a major childhood malignant neoplasm, represents the most frequent malignant liver tumor in childhood. Recent reports have shown the CTNNB1 coding beta-catenin protein to be frequently mutated or deleted at hot-spot regions involving exon 3 in HBL. We investigated the genetic alterations of the CTNNB1 coding beta-catenin protein and expression of several genes downstream of Wnt signals in 4 benign and 17 malignant pediatric liver tumors (PLTs) consisting of 15 HBL, 1 hepatocellular carcinoma, and 1 hepatic immature sarcoma. Of 17 malignant PLTs, 10 (56\%) revealed pathogenic alterations of the CTNNB1 gene, including 4 with missense mutations at codons 28, 32, 34 or 44, and 6 with interstitial deletions that partially or totally affected exon 3. All 6 deletions were in-frame deletions without a frame shift. The high frequency without any correlation to histological type indicates that the CTNNB1 gene alteration is a crucial event in the tumorigenesis of malignant PLTs. The immunohistochemical studies in 17 malignant PLTs demonstrated the nuclear/cytoplasmic accumulation of beta-catenin to be positive in all tumor specimens except for one hepatic sarcoma. A histological examination revealed all HBL cases involving tumors without detectable CTNNB1 gene alterations to show high expression of beta-catenin, thus indicating the accumulation of beta-catenin to be a common event in malignant PLTs, including HBL and hepatocellular carcinoma. Among the Wnt signal genes downstream of beta-catenin, E-cadherin is expressed in all malignant PLTs, while cyclin D1 expression was significantly detected in malignant PLTs with an advanced stage of disease. An immunohistological examination of nuclear accumulation of beta-catenin may thus be useful for diagnosing malignant PLTs. On the other hand, the expression of cyclin D1, a gene downstream of beta-catenin, might play a role in tumor progression.
This article was published in Oncol Rep
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy