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Human telomerase RNA component (hTERC) gene amplification detected by FISH in precancerous lesions and carcinoma of the larynx

Yu Liu12, Xiao-li Dong2, Cheng Tian1 and Hong-gang Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Beijing Tongren Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100730, China

2 Department of Pathology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100069, China

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Diagnostic Pathology 2012, 7:34  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-7-34

Published: 30 March 2012



Gain of 3q26 is frequently observed in squamous cell carcinomas of mucosal origin, including those originating in the head and neck region. The human telomerase RNA component (hTERC) gene, which is located on chromosome 3q26, encodes for an RNA subunit of telomerase that maintains the length of telomeres through cellular divisions, and is activated in malignant diseases. The present study was designed to detect hTERC amplification in laryngeal lesions and evaluate whether this might serve as a supportive biomarker in histopathological analysis for in the diagnosis of laryngeal lesions.


Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) was applied on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded blocks of 93 laryngeal specimens, including 14 normal epithelium (NE), 15 mild dysplasia (Md), 18 moderate dysplasia (MD), 16 severe dysplasia (SD), 9 carcinoma in situ (CIS), and 21 invasive carcinoma (IC)).


By histopathologic examination, hTERC amplification rates in NE, Md, MD, SD, CIS and IC cases were 0% (0/14), 13.33% (2/15), 72.22% (13/18), 81.25% (13/16), 100% (9/9) and 100% (21/21), respectively. Amplification of hTERC was significantly associated with histopathologic diagnosis (P < 0.0001). The percentage of hTERC amplification in patients with MD, SD, CIS, and IC was significantly higher than those with NE or Md (P < 0.0001). The number of cells with abnormal signals increased and the abnormal signal patterns were diversified with increasing severity of laryngeal dysplasia (P < 0.0001).


The hTERC amplification is important in the development of laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC). FISH detection of hTERC amplification may provide an effective approach in conjunction with histopathologic evaluation for differential diagnosis of laryngeal lesions.

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Laryngeal carcinoma; Human telomerase RNA component gene; Amplification; Fluorescent in situ hybridization