p27 Protein and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and liver: an overview

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;37(1):23-7. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200307000-00008.


Goals: The purpose of this review is to look at the evidence presented in the literature on the immunoexpression of p27 in cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.

Background: Cell cycle proteins have been shown to play an important role in the oncogenesis of many tumors. Several of these proteins have been examined in concert and in isolation, and some have been put forward as putative tumor markers. p27, which is an important inhibitory protein in the cell cycle and belonging to a group of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, has also been studied in several malignancies, most notably breast, lung, bladder, and prostate cancers. Considerable work has also been done on the expression of this protein in cancers occurring within the gastrointestinal tract.

Results: Cancers occurring in the major sites of the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, and colorectum) and liver show a similar pattern with regard to p27 protein levels. p27 emerges as a statistically significant predictor of survival and tumor behavior. It has been suggested that p27 loss occurs early in the carcinogenesis process, with dysplastic epithelium having decreased expression. The more aggressive, metastasizing cancers tend to lack p27 expression as well. Some studies have also invoked the subcellular localization of p27 (cytoplasmic versus nuclear) as also being of prognostic value.

Conclusion: Therefore, in gastrointestinal and hepatic cancers, low p27 expression is regarded as an important adverse prognostic factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Microfilament Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins / physiology*
  • Muscle Proteins*
  • Prognosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Tagln protein, mouse