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Merkel cell carcinoma subgroups by merkel cell polyomavirus DNA relative abundance and oncogene expression

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) was recently discovered in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous malignancy of dermal neuroendocrine cells. To investigate this heterogeneity, we developed a tissue microarray (TMA) to characterize immunohistochemical staining of candidate tumor cell proteins and a quantitative PCR assay to detect MCPyV and measure viral loads. MCPyV was detected in 19 of 23 (74%) primary MCC tumors, but 8 of these had less than 1 viral copy per 300 cells. Viral abundance of 0.06-1.2viral copies/cell was directly related to presence of retinoblastoma gene product (pRb) and terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase (TdT) by immunohistochemical staining (P</=0.003). Higher viral abundance tumors tended to be associated with less p53 expression, younger age at diagnosis, and longer survival (P</=0.08). These data suggest that MCC may arise through different oncogenic pathways, including ones independent of pRb and MCPyV. (c) 2009 UICC

Citation

Bhatia, K., Goedert, J. J., Modali, R., Preiss, L., & Ayers, L. W. (2010). Merkel cell carcinoma subgroups by merkel cell polyomavirus DNA relative abundance and oncogene expression. International Journal of Cancer, 126(9), 2240-2246. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.24676

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