CD74 and HLA-DRA in Cervical Carcinogenesis: Potential Targets for Antitumour Therapy

Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Jan 26;58(2):190. doi: 10.3390/medicina58020190.


Background and Objectives: Abnormal expressions of CD74 and human leukocyte antigen-DR alpha (HLA-DRA) have been reported in various cancers, though their roles in cervical cancer remain unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the gene and protein expressions of CD74 and HLA-DRA in the progression from normal cervix to precancerous cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and finally to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Materials and Methods: The gene expression profiles of CD74 and HLA-DRA were determined in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues, with three samples each from normal cervixes, human papillomavirus type 16/18-positive, low-grade CIN (LGCIN), high-grade CIN (HGCIN), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) using Human Transcriptome Array 2.0. Immunohistochemical expression of the proteins was semi-quantitatively assessed in another cohort of tissue microarray samples comprising 7 normal cervix cases, 10 LGCIN, 10 HGCIN, and 95 SCC. Results: The transcriptomics profile and proteins' expression demonstrated similar trends of upregulation of CD74 and HLA-DRA from normal cervix to CIN and highest in SCC. There was a significant difference in both proteins' expression between the histological groups (p = 0.0001). CD74 and HLA-DRA expressions were significantly associated with CIN grade (p = 0.001 and p = 0.030, respectively) but not with the subjects' age or SCC stage. Further analysis revealed a positive correlation between CD74 and HLA-DRA proteins. Conclusions: CD74 appears to promote cervical carcinogenesis via oncogenic signalling mechanisms and may serve as a potential antitumour target. Additionally, the upregulation of HLA-DRA, often associated with stronger immunogenicity, could be a promising biomarker for developing immunotherapies.

Keywords: CD74; HLA-DRA; cervical cancer; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Cervix Uteri / metabolism
  • Cervix Uteri / pathology
  • Female
  • HLA-DR alpha-Chains / genetics
  • HLA-DR alpha-Chains / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / pathology


  • HLA-DR alpha-Chains