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Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2013;6(12):2787-2799

Original Article
The correlation between morphology and the expression of TGF-β signaling pathway
proteins and epithelial-mesenchymal transition-related proteins in synovial sarcomas

Yan Qi, Cui-Cui Wang, Yong-Lai He, Hong Zou, Chun-Xia Liu, Li-Juan Pang, Jian-Ming Hu, Jin-fang Jiang, Wen-Jie Zhang, Feng Li

Department of Pathology, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, China; Department of ICU Intensive Care, The First Affiliated
Hospital Pathology, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, China; Department of Oncology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical
College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China. Equal contributors.

Received October 6, 2013; Accepted October 31, 2013; Epub November 15, 2013; Published December 1, 2013

Abstract: Synovial sarcoma (SS) is a malignant tumor of soft tissue and is noted for late local recurrence and metastasis. Aberrant epithelial-
mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse human malignancies. Immunohistochemical techniques
were used to assess EMT-related proteins (E-cadherin, N-cadherin, β-catenin, Snail, and Slug) and the TGF-β1 pathway (TGF-β1 and
Smad2/3) proteins expression in different histological subtypes and epithelial mesenchymal compositions of SS. The expression of cell-
surface (E-cadherin) and cytoskeletal proteins (β-catenin) were higher significantly in biphasic SSs (BSSs) (70.4%, 51.9%) than MFSSs (both
for 10%). Among monophasic fibrous SSs (MFSSs) samples, E-cadherin protein expression was negatively correlated with expression Snail,
Slug, TGF-β1, and Smad2/3. The expression levels of Snail and Smad2/3 were correlated with the pTNM stage (I-II vs. III-IV; P=0.047, P=0.021)
and TGF-β1 exhibited a tendency toward a positive correlation with pTNM stage (I-II vs. III-IV; P=0.052), but did not correlate with the histological
grade (p>0.05). Interestingly, our data showed that expression of E-cadherin protein correlated with greater survival in SS patients.
Overexpression of Snail, and TGF-β1 is associated with suppressed expression of E-cadherin in MFSSs, which supports the hypothesis that
the MFSS subtype may have developed via neoplastic EMT. (IJCEP1310019).

Keywords: Synovial sarcomas, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, TGF-β1 signaling pathway, immunohistochemistry

Address correspondence to: Dr. Feng Li, Department of Pathology, Shihezi University School of Medicine, Shihezi, Xinjiang, China. Tel: 86-993-
2057125; Fax: 86-993-2057136; E-mail: lifeng7855@126.com