MiR-21, EGFR and PTEN in non-small cell lung cancer: An in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry study

Irina Marin, Efrat Ofek, Jair Bar, Nadia Prisant, Marina Perelman, Camila Avivi, Gitit Lavy-Shahaf, Amir Onn, Ruth Katz, Iris Barshack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Aims To analyse microRNA (miR)-21 distribution and expression at the cellular level in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). MiR-21 is an oncogenic microRNA overexpressed in NSCLC. In previous studies, overexpression of miR-21 was evaluated from the tumour bulk by quantitative reverse transcription PCR with results expressed on average across the entire cell population. Methods We used in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry to assess the correlation between miR-21 levels and the expression of markers that may be possible targets (epidermal growth factor reaction) or may be involved in its upregulation (phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), p53). The Pearson's χ 2 tests was used to assess correlation with clinicopathological data and with miR-21 expression both in tumour and tumour stroma. Results Cytoplasmic staining and expression of Mir-21 were detected in the tumours and in associated stromal cells. Expression was highest in the stroma immediately surrounding the tumour cells and decreased as the distance from the tumour increased. No expression of miR-21 was found in normal lung parenchyma and a significant association was found between tumour localised miR-21 and PTEN. Conclusions Presence of miR-21 in both cell tumour and stromal compartments of NSCLC and the relationship with PTEN confirms miR-21 as a microenvironment signalling molecule, possibly inducing epithelial mesenchymal transition and invasion by targeting PTEN in the stromal compartment possibly through exosomal transport. In situ immunohistochemical studies such as ours may help shed light on the complex interactions between miRNAs and its role in NSCLC biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-641
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

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  • immunocytochemistry
  • in situ hybridisation
  • lung cancer


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