Sox2 and Oct4 are transcription factors with the characteristics of regulating self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cell. The aim of this study was to detect the expression of Sox2 and Oct4 and analyze their clinical significance in human non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Expression of Sox2 and Oct4 were assayed in cancer tissues and their corresponding paracancerous tissues from 44 patients with NSCLC and 21 patients with benign tumors using immunohistochemistry, Western blot, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The correlation between the expression of Sox2 and Oct4 and tumor type, grade and prognosis and the utility of the two genes in discriminating between benign and malignant tumors were analyzed as well. The results showed that Sox2 and Oct4 positive staining was only seen in the nuclei of cancer cells but not in either the precancerous tissues or benign tumor tissues by immunohistochemistry (p < 0.01). Furthermore, in the lung cancer tissue, the positive rate for Sox2 and Oct4 was 70.5% and 54.5%, respectively. Meanwhile, clinicopathological correlations showed that the Oct4 expression level was significantly associated with poorer differentiation and higher TNM stage of the cancer (p < 0.05). Western blot and RT-PCR analysis showed similar results to immunohistochemistry. Follow-up analysis revealed that expression of Oct4 was significantly associated with poor prognosis of lung cancer. The conclusion is that Sox2 and Oct4 may act as the promising unit markers in directing NSCLC diagnosis and therapy. Also, Oct4 can be regarded as a novel predictor of poor prognosis for NSCLC patients undergoing resection.
Keywords: NSCLC; Oct4; RT-PCR; Sox2; Western blot; immunohistochemistry.