Mutational analysis of K-ras and Ras protein expression in larynx squamous cell carcinoma

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Mar;25(1):73-8.


The ras gene family (H, K and N-ras) encodes the Ras protein, a GTPase-activating protein that regulates several signal transduction pathways including cellular proliferation and differentiation. Mutations in codons 12, 13 and 61 of the ras genes constitute one of the most frequent alterations in human cancer. In the Western Hemisphere, a low frequency of mutations in these genes has been observed in head and neck carcinomas; a higher frequency has been found in countries such as India and Taiwan. Increased protein expression is a relatively frequent event in larynx carcinomas. This study was aimed to evaluate the participation of the k-ras gene and Ras expression in 20 Mexican patients with larynx squamous carcinoma, 2 with dysplasia and 4 with normal mucosa. Samples (of 26 patients) were embedded in paraffin and immunohistochemical analysis was performed for the Ras protein, as well as amplification of the k-ras gene exon 1 (108 bp) by laser capture microdissection. Then, DNA extraction, PCR and sequencing were performed looking for possible mutation in codons 12 and 13. All patients with larynx carcinoma were men, median age 62 years. Eighty-five percent of the patients had risk factors such as smoking and/or alcohol consumption, 25% were in clinical stages I and II, and 75% in stages III and IV; 45% of the patients presented tumor recurrence or persistence. In this study, no mutations were found in codons 12 or 13 of the k-ras gene; however, protein expression was observed in 95% of the samples and a higher expression of the protein was associated with tumor recurrence or persistence, although this was not statistically significant. Unexpectedly, well-differentiated carcinomas and dysplasias presented an increase in protein expression. These results suggest that ras may be involved in early stages of larynx carcinogenesis and may be activated by other mechanisms different from mutations, such as epigenetic events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Genes, ras*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras) / genetics
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras) / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins