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Metallothioneins (MTs) are phylogenetically old cysteine-rich proteins, which are implicated in a variety of physiological and pathological processes. Their growth-regulating, anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory functions have been attributed not only to intracellular free radical scavenging and to zinc and copper regulation but also to the ability of secreted MT to bind on surface lipoprotein receptor-megalin/LRP2, which enables the endocytosis of MT-I/II and a wide range of other functionally distinct ligands. In the present study, we analysed the expression pattern of both proteins in 55 cases of premalignant transformation of cervical squamous cells, i.e. in low- and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL and HSIL). The data showed that in LSIL (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia CIN1; N = 25) MTs were present only in basal and parabasal cells and that megalin was only weakly expressed. In HSIL (CIN2; N = 15 and CIN 3/carcinoma in situ; N = 15), however, overexpression and co-localization of MT with megalin were found in the entire hyperplastic epithelium. Moreover, megalin immunoreactivity appeared on the glandular epithelium and vascular endothelium, as well as on lymphatic cells in stroma. Besides, multiple megalin-positive cells expressed phosphorylated Akt1, implying that MT- and/or megalin-dependent prosurvival signal transduction pathways might contribute to the development of severe cervical dysplasia. The data emphasize the diagnostic power of combined MT/megalin analysis in pre-cancer screening.


Hrvoje Jakovac, Nikola Stašić, Maja Krašević, Nives Jonjić, Biserka Radošević-Stašić. Expression profiles of metallothionein-I/II and megalin/LRP-2 in uterine cervical squamous lesions. Virchows Archiv : an international journal of pathology. 2021 Apr;478(4):735-746

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PMID: 33084977

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