Complement factor H: a biomarker for progression of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Pilvi M Riihilä, Liisa M Nissinen, Risto Ala-Aho, Markku Kallajoki, Reidar Grénman, Seppo Meri, Sirkku Peltonen, Juha Peltonen, Veli-Matti Kähäri
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2014, 134 (2): 498-506
The incidence of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is increasing globally. We have studied the expression of complement system components in cSCC. Expression profiling of cSCC cell lines (n=8) and normal human epidermal keratinocytes (n=5) with Affymetrix and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) revealed upregulation of complement factor H (CFH) and factor H-like protein-1 (FHL-1) in cSCC cell lines. The expression of CFH and FHL-1 mRNAs was also significantly higher in cSCC tumors (n=6) than in normal skin (n=11). Analysis of CFH and FHL-1 expression in vivo in invasive cSCCs (n=65), in situ cSCCs (n=38), and premalignant lesions (actinic keratoses, n=37) by immunohistochemistry showed that they were specifically expressed by tumor cells in cSCCs and the staining intensity was stronger in cSCCs than in in situ cSCCs and actinic keratoses. The expression of CFH by cSCC cells was upregulated by IFN-γ and the basal CFH and FHL-1 expression was dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 and p38 signaling. Knockdown of CFH and FHL-1 expression inhibited proliferation and migration of cSCC cells and inhibited basal ERK1/2 activation. These results provide evidence for a role of CFH and FHL-1 in cSCC progression and identify them as progression markers and potential therapeutic targets in SCCs of skin.

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