Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) integrates monoclonally into the genomes of approximately 80% of Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs), affecting their clinicopathological features. The molecular mechanisms underlying MCC development after MCPyV infection remain unclear. We investigated the association of MCPyV infection with activation of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) signaling pathway in MCCs to elucidate the role of these signal transductions and to identify molecular targets for treatment. We analyzed the molecular and pathological characteristics of 41 MCPyV-positive and 27 MCPyV-negative MCCs. Expression of mTOR, TSC1, and TSC2 messenger RNA was significantly higher in MCPyV-negative MCCs, and Akt (T308) phosphorylation also was significantly higher (92% vs 66%; P =.019), whereas 4E-BP1 (S65 and T70) phosphorylation was common in both MCC types (92%-100%). The expression rates of most other tested signals were high (60%-100%) and not significantly correlated with MCPyV large T antigen expression. PIK3CA mutations were observed more frequently in MCPyV-positive MCCs (6/36 [17%] vs 2/20 [10%]). These results suggest that protein expression (activation) of most Akt/mTOR/4E-BP1 pathway signals was not significantly different in MCPyV-positive and MCPyV-negative MCCs, although these 2 types may differ in tumorigenesis, and MCPyV-negative MCCs showed significantly more frequent p-Akt (T308) activation. Therefore, certain Akt/mTOR/4E-BP1 pathway signals could be novel therapeutic targets for MCC regardless of MCPyV infection status.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine