Molecular biology of head and neck cancer: risks and pathways.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #7070, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America (Impact Factor: 2.07). 01/2009; 22(6):1099-124, vii. DOI: 10.1016/j.hoc.2008.08.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Patients present with a differential baseline risk of cancer based on normal and expected variations in genes associated with cancer. The baseline risk of developing cancer is acted on throughout life as the genome of different cells interacts with the environment in the form of exposures (eg, toxins, infections). As genetic damage is incurred throughout a lifetime (directly to DNA sequences or to the epigenome), events are set in motion to progressively disrupt normal cellular pathways toward tumorigenesis. This article attempts to characterize broad categories of genetic aberrations and pathways in a manner that might be useful for the clinician to understand the risk of developing cancer, the pathways that are disrupted, and the potential for molecular-based diagnostics.

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    ABSTRACT: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the fifth most prevalent cancer worldwide. Apart from various known clinicopathogical factors, it is still a major concern as many genetic and epigenetic alterations bring about the possibility of this deadly disease. The aim of this review is to explore the possible role of DNA repair pathways and the polymorphic status of DNA repair genes (XPA, XPC, XPD, XRCC1 and XRCC3) in the onset of HNSCC, along with sequence variations in genes such as Glutathione S-transferases (GSTT1, M1 and P1) that are significantly associated with HNSCC risk. We also focus on the p53 gene mutation induced by various etiological agents and threat factors with its implications towards HNSCC, and emphasise the current therapeutic interventions in treating HNSCC.
    Central European Journal of Biology 06/2014; 9(6). DOI:10.2478/s11535-014-0292-3 · 0.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a leading malignancy worldwide; the overall 5-year survival rate is approximately 50%. A variety of proteins in Toll-like receptors (TLRs) pathway have been related with the risk of OSCC. However, the influence of genetic variations in TLRs pathway genes on OSCC susceptibility is unclear. Previous studies mainly focused on the coding region of genes, while the UTR region remains unstudied. In the current study, a bioinformatics approach was performed to select candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on microRNA binding sites of TLRs pathway genes related with OSCC. After screening 90 OSCC related TLRs pathway genes, 16 SNPs were selected for genotyping. We found that rs5030486, the polymorphisms on 3' UTR of TRAF6, was significantly associated with OSCC risk. AG genotype of TRAF6 was strongly associated with a decreased risk of OSCC (OR = 0.252; 95% CI = 0.106, 0.598; p = 0.001). In addition, AG genotype was also related with a reduced risk of OSCC progression both in univariable analysis (HR = 0.303, 95% CI = 0.092, 0.995) and multivariable analysis (HR = 0.272, 95% CI = 0.082, 0.903). Furthermore, after detecting the mRNA expression level of TRAF6 in 24 OSCC patients, we found that TRAF6 expression level was significantly different between patients carrying different genotypes at locus rs5030486 (p = 0.013), indicating that rs5030486 of TRAF6 might contribute to OSCC risk by altering TRAF6 expression level. In general, these data indicated that SNP rs5030486 could be a potential bio-marker for OSCC risk and our results might provide new insights into the association of polymorphisms within the non-coding area of genes with cancers.
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    ABSTRACT: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, and is responsible for a quarter of a million deaths annually. The survival rate for HNSCC patients is poor, showing only minor improvement in the last three decades. Despite new surgical techniques and chemotherapy protocols, tumor resistance to chemotherapy remains a significant challenge for HNSCC patients. Numerous mechanisms underlie chemoresistance, including genetic and epigenetic alterations in cancer cells that may be acquired during treatment and activation of mitogenic signaling pathways, such as nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer-of activated B cell, that cause reduced apoptosis. In addition to dysfunctional molecular signaling, emerging evidence reveals involvement of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in tumor development and in tumor resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These observations have sparked interest in understanding the mechanisms involved in the control of CSC function and fate. Post-translational modifications of histones dynamically influence gene expression independent of alterations to the DNA sequence. Recent findings from our group have shown that pharmacological induction of post-translational modifications of tumor histones dynamically modulates CSC plasticity. These findings suggest that a better understanding of the biology of CSCs in response to epigenetic switches and pharmacological inhibitors of histone function may directly translate to the development of a mechanism-based strategy to disrupt CSCs. In this review, we present and discuss current knowledge on epigenetic modifications of HNSCC and CSC response to DNA methylation and histone modifications. In addition, we discuss chromatin modifications and their role in tumor resistance to therapy.

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Dec 19, 2014