The SLIT2-ROBO1/2 pathways control diverse biological processes, including growth regulation. To understand the role of SLIT2 and ROBO1/2 in cervical carcinogenesis, firstly their RNA expression profiles were screened in 21 primary uterine cervical carcinoma (CACX) samples and two CACX cell lines. Highly reduced expressions of these genes were evident. Concomitant alterations [deletion/methylation] of the genes were then analyzed in 23 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and 110 CACX samples. In CIN, SLIT2 was deleted in 22% samples compared to 9% for ROBO1 and none for ROBO2, whereas comparable methylation was observed for both SLIT2 (30%) and ROBO1 (22%) followed by ROBO2 (9%). In CACX, alteration of the genes were in the following order: Deletion: ROBO1 (48%) > SLIT2 (35%) > ROBO2 (33%), Methylation: SLIT2 (34%) > ROBO1 (29%) > ROBO2 (26%). Overall alterations of SLIT2 and/or ROBO1 (44%) and SLIT2 and/or ROBO2 (39%) were high in CIN followed by significant increase in stage I/II tumors, suggesting deregulation of these interactions in premalignant lesions and early invasive tumors. Immunohistochemical analysis of SLIT2 and ROBO1/2 in CACX also showed reduced expression concordant with molecular alterations. Alteration of all these genes predicted poor patient outcome. Multiparous (≥5) women with altered SLIT2 and ROBO1 along with advanced tumor stage (III/IV) and early sexual debut (<19 years) had worst prognosis. Our data suggests the importance of abrogation of SLIT2-ROBO1 and SLIT2-ROBO2 interactions in the initiation and progression of CACX and also for early diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.
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