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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Genomic amplification of the human telomerase gene (TERC) in pap smears predicts the development of cervical cancer.

Invasive cervical carcinomas almost invariably carry extra copies of chromosome arm 3q, resulting in a gain of the human telomerase gene (TERC). This provided the rationale for the development of a multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probe set as a diagnostic tool for the direct detection of TERC gains in Pap smears. We previously used this probe set to show that cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2 and CIN3 lesions could be distinguished from normal samples, atypical squamous cell of undetermined significance (ASCUS) and CIN1, with a sensitivity and specificity exceeding 90%, independent of the cytomorphological assessment. In the current study, we explored whether gain of 3q and amplification of TERC could predict progression from CIN1/CIN2 to CIN3 and invasive carcinoma. We applied our probe set to a series of 59 previously stained Pap smears for which repeat Pap smears and clinical follow-up were available. The samples included CIN1/CIN2 lesions that progressed to CIN3 (progressors), CIN1/CIN2 lesions that regressed spontaneously (regressors), and normal Pap smears from women who subsequently developed CIN3 or cervical cancer. Here, we show that progressors displayed a gain of 3q whereas none of the regressors showed this genetic aberration. These data suggest that 3q gain is required for the transition from CIN1/CIN2 to CIN3 and that it predicts progression. Of note, 3q gain was found in 33% of cytologically normal Pap smears from women who were diagnosed with CIN3 or invasive cervical carcinoma after a short latency. The sensitivity of our test for predicting progression from CIN1/CIN2 to CIN3 was 100% and the specificity, ie, the prediction of regression, was 70%. We conclude that the detection of 3q gain and amplification of TERC in routinely collected Pap smears can assist in identifying low-grade lesions with a high progression risk and in decreasing false-negative cytological screenings.[1]


  1. Genomic amplification of the human telomerase gene (TERC) in pap smears predicts the development of cervical cancer. Heselmeyer-Haddad, K., Sommerfeld, K., White, N.M., Chaudhri, N., Morrison, L.E., Palanisamy, N., Wang, Z.Y., Auer, G., Steinberg, W., Ried, T. Am. J. Pathol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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