AJTR Copyright © 2009-All rights reserved. Published by e-Century Publishing Corporation, Madison, WI 53711
Am J Translational Res 2010;2(2):156-169

Original Article
Piwil2 expressed in various stages of cervical neoplasia is a potential
complementary marker for p16INK4a

Gang He, Li Chen, Yin Ye, Yi Xiao, Keding Hua, David Jarjoura, Toru Nakano, Sanford H. Barsky, Rulong Shen,
Jian-Xin Gao

Department of Pathology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Biostatistic Center, Ohio State University Medical
Center, Columbus, OH 43210; Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Research Institute for Microbial Diseases,
Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Received March 17, 2010; accepted March 22, 2010; available online March 25, 2010

Abstract: Generally, cancers may undergo the developmental stages of benign proliferation, precancer and
invasive cancer. Identification of biomarkers that are expressed throughout the developmental stages will
facilitate detection, prevention and therapy of cancer. Piwil2, a member of AGO/PIWI family of proteins, has been
suggested to be associated with tumor development. Here we reported that piwil2 can be detected by
immunohistochemistry (IHC) in various stages of human cervical squamous cell carcinomas and
adenocarcinomas. Interestingly, piwil2 was also detected in some metaplastic epithelial cells as well as
histologically “normal” appearing tissues adjacent to malignant lesions. While all the premalignant and
malignant lesions expressed varying levels of piwil2, p16INK4a (p16), a surrogate indicator of high-risk human
papillomavirus (HR-HPV) infection, was detected in only 84.62% of the specimens. In Papanicolaou (Pap) test,
piwil2 was also detected in atypical glandular cells (AGC), low-grade (LSIL) and high-grade squamous
intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), whereas p16 was not always concomitantly detected in the same specimens. The
results suggest that piwil2 might play important roles throughout the process of cervical cancer development and
have potential to be used as a complementary marker for p16INK4a. It is worth further study to improve the
sensitivity and specificity of current screening methods for cervical cancers. (AJTR1003004).

Key words: Piwil2, Cervical cancer; p16, Field cancerization; Tumor development

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Address all correspondence to:
Jian-Xin Gao M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Pathology
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Ohio State University Medical Center
129 Hamilton Hall
1645 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH, 43210
Phone: 614-247-2341
Fax: 614-292-7027

Co-corresponding author:
Rulong Shen, M.D.
Department of Pathology