Merkel Cell Carcinomas: Expression of S-Phase Kinase-Associated Protein 2 (Skp2), p27, and Proliferation Markers

Lori A. Erickson, Mauro Papotti, Marco Volante, Long Jin, Jean E. Lewis, Ricardo V. Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Merkel cell carcinomas are rare and aggressive tumors about which the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins are not well known. We evaluated the clinicopathologic features of Merkel cell carcinomas and examined the expression of the cell cycle regulatory markers p27 and S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2) and the proliferation markers Ki-67 and DNA topoisomerase II alpha (topo II alpha) in a group of these tumors. Thirty-nine cases of Merkel cell carcinoma were studied, 19 from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and 20 from the University of Torino, Torino, Italy. Although the University of Torino patients tended to be slightly older at time of surgery compared to the Mayo Clinic patients, no clinical, pathologic, or immunohistochemical feature was statistically significantly different between the two groups. Of the 39 patients, 20 were male and 19 were female. The age at surgery averaged 72 yr. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded archival tissues from the 39 Merkel cell carcinomas were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for p27, Skp2, Ki-67, and topo II alpha with the avidin-biotin peroxidase system. The distribution of immunoreactivity was analyzed by quantifying the percentage of positive nuclei, which was expressed as the labeling index. There was a statistically significant inverse relationship between p27 and Skp2 (p = 0.005). Most tumors with increased levels of Skp2 were associated with reduced p27, and tumors with high levels of p27 expression were associated with reduced levels of Skp2. These results suggest that Skp2 regulates p27 expression in Merkel cell carcinomas. Tumors showing increased Skp2 expression were not always correlated with increased proliferation as evaluated by Ki-67 and topo II alpha, suggesting that Skp2 may be involved in Merkel cell tumorigenesis, but that other factors may also influence cell proliferation in these tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
JournalEndocrine Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Cell cycle
  • DNA topoisomerase II alpha
  • Ki-67
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Proliferation markers
  • S-phase kinase-associated protein 2
  • Skp2
  • p27

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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