High expression of Junctional Adhesion Molecule-A (JAM-A) has been linked with poor prognosis in several cancers, including breast cancers overexpressing the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2). Furthermore, JAM-A expression has been linked with regulating that of HER2, and associated with the development of resistance to HER2-targeted therapies in breast cancer patients. The purpose of this study was to establish a potential relationship between JAM-A and HER2 in HER2-overexpressing gastro-esophageal (GE) cancers. Interrogation of gene expression datasets revealed that high JAM-A mRNA expression was associated with poorer survival in HER2-positive gastric cancer patients. However, high intra-tumoral heterogeneity of JAM-A protein expression was noted upon immunohistochemical scoring of a GE cancer tissue microarray (TMA), precluding a simple confirmation of any relationship between JAM-A and HER2 at protein level. However, in a test-set of 25 full-face GE cancer tissue sections, a novel weighted ranking system proved effective in capturing JAM-A intra-tumoral heterogeneity and confirming statistically sig-nificant correlations between JAM-A/HER2 expression. Given the growing importance of immuno-histochemistry in stratifying cancer patients for the receipt of new targeted therapies, this may sound a cautionary note against over-relying on cancer TMAs in biomarker discovery studies of heterogeneously expressed proteins. It also highlights a timely need to develop validated mechanisms of capturing intra-tumoral heterogeneity to aid in future biomarker/therapeutic target development for the benefit of cancer patients.
- Cancer och onkologi