Nuclear localization of human AP endonuclease 1 (HAP1/Ref-1) associates with prognosis in early operable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

J Pathol. 1999 Nov;189(3):351-7. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199911)189:3<351::AID-PATH435>3.0.CO;2-1.


The present study examined the immunohistochemical expression of human AP endonuclease 1 (HAP1/Ref-1), the major endonuclease in the repair of apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) sites in cellular DNA, in normal lung and lung carcinomas. Cellular expression of HAP1 was determined using a standard avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex (ABC) technique and an anti-HAP1 rabbit polyclonal antibody on paraffin-embedded tissue sections from normal lung and in 103 primary non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs). In normal lung, the staining for HAP1 was found to be both nuclear and cytoplasmic in the pneumocytes of the alveoli. Superficial ciliated cells of the bronchial epithelium presented cytoplasmic staining, while staining for the basal cells was mostly nuclear. Bronchial glandular cells demonstrated mixed nuclear and cytoplasmic staining. Lung carcinomas showed all patterns of expression for HAP1. Loss of HAP1 expression was associated with low proliferation index (p=0.01) and with squamous histology (p=0.04). In squamous carcinomas, a significant correlation was observed between positive nuclear HAP1 and negative p53 expression (p=0.03). A survival benefit was seen in patients presenting nuclear HAP1 expression and those presenting the nuclear HAP1+/p53- phenotype (p=0.01 and 0.007, respectively). It is concluded that nuclear HAP1 localization may be relevant to its role as a DNA repair protein and/or to the recently proposed role as an activator of wild-type p53, and thus to the better outcome seen in this group of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carbon-Oxygen Lyases / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Nucleus / enzymology
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase
  • Deoxyribonuclease IV (Phage T4-Induced)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung / enzymology
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Deoxyribonuclease IV (Phage T4-Induced)
  • Carbon-Oxygen Lyases
  • APEX1 protein, human
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase