CDC2/CDK1 expression in esophageal adenocarcinoma and precursor lesions serves as a diagnostic and cancer progression marker and potential novel drug target

Donna E. Hansel, Surajit Dhara, Ru Chih C. Huang, Raheela Ashfaq, Mari Deasel, Yutaka Shimada, Harold S. Bernstein, John Harmon, Malcolm Brock, Arlene Forastiere, M. Kay Washington, Anirban Maitra, Elizabeth Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Esophageal adenocarcinoma arises through well-defined precursor lesions (Barrett esophagus), although only a subset of these lesions advances to invasive adenocarcinoma. The lack of markers predicting progression in Barrett esophagus, typical presentation at advanced stage, and limitations of conventional chemotherapy result in >90% mortality for Barrett-associated adenocarcinomas. To identify potential prognostic markers and therapeutic targets, we compared gene expression profiles from Barrett-associated esophageal adenocarcinoma cell lines (BIC1, SEG1, KYAE, OE33) and normal esophageal epithelial scrapings utilizing the Affymetrix U133_A gene expression platform. We identified 560 transcripts with >3-fold up-regulation in the adenocarcinoma cell lines compared with normal epithelium. Utilizing tissue microarrays composed of normal esophageal squamous mucosa (n = 20), Barrett esophagus (n = 10), low-grade dysplasia (n = 14), high-grade dysplasia (n = 27), adenocarcinoma (n = 59), and node metastases (n = 27), we confirmed differential up-regulation of three proteins (Cdc2/Cdk1, Cdc5, and Igfbp3) in adenocarcinomas and Barrett lesions. Protein expression mirrored histologic progression; thus, 87% of low-grade dysplasias had at least focal surface Cdc2/Cdk1 and 20% had >5% surface staining; 96% of high-grade dysplasias expressed abundant surface Cdc2/Cdk1, while invasive adenocarcinoma and metastases demonstrated ubiquitous expression. Esophageal adenocarcinoma cell lines treated with the novel CDC2/CDK1 transcriptional inhibitor, tetra-O-methyl nordihydroguaiaretic acid (EM-1421, formerly named M4N) demonstrated a dose-dependent reduction in cell proliferation, paralleling down-regulation of CDC2/CDK1 transcript and protein levels. These findings suggest a role for CDC2/CDK1 in esophageal adenocarcinogenesis, both as a potential histopathologic marker of dysplasia and a putative treatment target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-399
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Barrett's esophagus
  • CDC2
  • CDK1
  • Dysplasia
  • EM-1421
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Progression marker
  • Transcription inhibitor


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