Scientific Reports;Volume 8, Article number: 5059 (2018)
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Novel predictive biomarkers are needed to improve treatment selection and more accurate prognostication. PAX6 is a transcription factor with a proposed tumour suppressor function. Immunohistochemical staining was performed on tissue microarrays from 335 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients for PAX6. Multivariate analyses of clinico-pathological variables and disease-specific survival (DSS) was carried out, and phenotypic changes of two NSCLC cell lines with knockdown of PAX6 were characterized. While PAX6 expression was only associated with a trend of better disease-specific survival (DSS) (p = 0.10), the pN+ subgroup (N = 103) showed significant correlation between high PAX6 expression and longer DSS (p = 0.022). Median survival for pN + patients with high PAX6 expression was 127.4 months, versus 22.9 months for patients with low PAX6 expression. In NCI-H661 cells, knockdown of PAX6 strongly activated serum-stimulated migration. In NCI-H460 cells, PAX6 knockdown activated anchorage-independent growth. We did not observe any significant effect of PAX6 on proliferation in either of cell lines. Our findings strongly support the proposition of PAX6 as a valid and positive prognostic marker in NSCLC in node-positive patients. There is a need for further studies, which should provide mechanistical explanation for the role of PAX6 in NSCLC.
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