Background: We reported increased levels of phosphatidyl inositol synthase (PI synthase), (enzyme that catalyses phosphatidyl inositol (PI) synthesis-implicated in intracellular signaling and regulation of cell growth) in smokeless tobacco (ST) exposed oral cell cultures by differential display. This study determined the clinical significance of PI synthase overexpression in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and premalignant lesions (leukoplakia), and identified the downstream signaling proteins in PI synthase pathway that are perturbed by smokeless tobacco (ST) exposure.
Methods: Tissue microarray (TMA) Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, Confocal laser scan microscopy, RT-PCR were performed to define the expression of PI synthase in clinical samples and in oral cell culture systems.
Results: Significant increase in PI synthase immunoreactivity was observed in premalignant lesions and OSCCs as compared to oral normal tissues (p = 0.000). Further, PI synthase expression was significantly associated with de-differentiation of OSCCs, (p = 0.005) and tobacco consumption (p = 0.03, OR = 9.0). Exposure of oral cell systems to smokeless tobacco (ST) in vitro confirmed increase in PI synthase, Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and cyclin D1 levels.
Conclusion: Collectively, increased PI synthase expression was found to be an early event in oral cancer and a target for smokeless tobacco.