CDK7 Predicts Worse Outcome in Head and Neck Squamous-Cell Cancer

Tobias Jagomast*, Christian Idel, Luise Klapper, Patrick Kuppler, Anne Offermann, Eva Dreyer, Karl Ludwig Bruchhage, Julika Ribbat-Idel, Sven Perner

*Corresponding author for this work


HNSCC is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and the prognosis is still poor. Here, we investigated the prognostic implications of CDK7 and pMED1. Both proteins affect transcription, and their expression is altered throughout different tumor entities. pMED1 is phosphorylated by CDK7. Importantly, CDK7 and MED1 have been ascribed prognostic implications by various studies. However, their prognostic value in head and neck squamous-cell cancer (HNSCC) remains elusive. We applied immunohistochemical staining of CDK7 and pMED1 on our large and clinically well-characterized HNSCC tissue cohort comprising 419 patients. Software-aided quantification of staining intensity was performed as a measure of protein expression. The following results were linked to the clinicopathological features of our cohort and correlated in different tissue types (primary tumor, lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis, recurrence). Upregulation CDK7 was associated with worse 5-year overall survival as well as disease-free survival in HNSCC while being independent of other known prognostic factors such as p16-status. Also, CDK7 expression was significantly elevated in immune cell infiltrated tumors. In HNSCC CDK7 might serve as a novel prognostic marker to indicate the prognosis of patients. Furthermore, in vitro studies proved the feasibility of CDK7 inhibition with attenuating effects on cell proliferation underlining its remarkable translational potential for future therapeutic regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number492
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19.01.2022


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