The British journal of dermatology

Malignant T cells in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma lesions contain decreased levels of the antiapoptotic protein Ku70.

PMID 20408834


Malignant T cells in primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) are genetically unstable and exhibit prolonged lifespans potentially explained by dysregulation of apoptosis, yet are responsive to apoptosis-inducing therapies. The heterodimeric protein Ku70/80 is known to play a role in DNA repair (Ku70 and Ku80) and inhibition of apoptosis (Ku70 only). To investigate the expression of Ku70/80 in CD3+ T cells derived from skin and blood in patients with CTCL and normal samples, as well as benign dermatoses. Normal (n=10), CTCL (n=9) and benign dermatoses (n=13) skin samples were stained for confocal imaging of Ku70/80 and CD3 and analysed using imaging software. Circulating CD4+ T cells in normal and CTCL peripheral blood were analysed by flow cytometry and Western blot for Ku70/80 expression (n=6). Ku70 and Ku80 were significantly diminished in T cells of CTCL lesions relative to T cells of control skin. Decreased T-cell Ku70 expression was not a feature of the benign dermatoses psoriasis and contact dermatitis, suggesting that loss of Ku70/80 in CTCL is not simply the result of cutaneous inflammation. Reduced Ku70 was also noted in circulating CD4+ T cells in patients with CTCL with peripheral blood involvement. Deficient expression or lack of Ku70/80 may result in genomic instability and play a role in tumorigenesis, as well as account for the increased susceptibility of malignant T cells to apoptosis-inducing treatment modalities in the setting of intrinsic resistance to apoptosis.