Frequent loss of claudin-4 expression in dedifferentiated and undifferentiated endometrial carcinomas

Basile Tessier-Cloutier, Robert A. Soslow, Colin J.R. Stewart, Martin Köbel, Cheng Han Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Dedifferentiated endometrial carcinomas (DDECs)/undifferentiated endometrial carcinomas (UECs) are aggressive endometrial cancers with frequent genomic inactivation of core components of switch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) complex proteins. Claudin-4, an epithelial intercellular tight junction protein, was recently found to be expressed in SWI/SNF-deficient undifferentiated carcinomas but not in SWI/SNF-deficient sarcomas. The aim of this study was to examine claudin-4 expression in UECs/DDECs and other high-grade uterine carcinomas. Methods and results: We examined claudin-4 expression by immunohistochemistry (clone 3E2C1) on tissue microarrays that contained 44 UECs/DDECs (24 SWI/SNF-deficient), 50 carcinosarcomas, 164 grade 3 endometrioid carcinomas, 57 serous carcinomas, and 20 clear cell carcinomas. Tumours with <5% claudin-4 expression were considered to be negative. Nearly all SWI/SNF-deficient, and most SWI/SNF-proficient, UECs/DDECs showed a complete absence of claudin-4 expression in the undifferentiated component, whereas the differentiated component in DDECs showed consistent and diffuse claudin-4 expression. Only one SWI/SNF-deficient DDEC showed focal expression of claudin-4 in the undifferentiated component, as compared with diffuse expression in the corresponding differentiated component. Claudin-4 expression was consistently absent in the sarcomatous component of carcinosarcoma, and it was absent in 24% of grade 3 endometrioid carcinomas and serous carcinomas. Conclusion: Claudin-4 expression can be absent or very focal in a subset of high-grade endometrial carcinomas, and is almost always absent in the undifferentiated components of SWI/SNF-deficient UECs/DDECs, despite the apparent epithelial origin in the case of DDECs. Therefore, claudin-4 expression cannot be used to infer mesenchymal or epithelial tumour origin in the endometrium. The consistent loss or down-regulation of claudin-4, a tight junction protein, in SWI/SNF-deficient UECs/DDECs further supports the undifferentiated nature of these tumours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

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