Expression of Keratin Proteins in Deeply Invasive Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma: An Immunohistochemical Study

June K Robinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Abstract. The expression of certain classes of keratin is associated with cell maturation and differentiation. During cell transformation and tumor development, the cell specificity of intermediate filament, keratin, is largely conserved. Taking advantage of this, we utilized monoclonal antikeratin immunohistochemical techniques to examine basal and squamous cell carcinomas as they became deeply invasive. Dyskeratotic keratinocytes and keratin pearls in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) stain with antikeratin anti‐sera to larger keratins (65–67 Kd). At the deep tumor margins, SCCs no longer express larger keratins but retain expression of 50, 58 Kd, which are markers of keratinocytes derived from stratified squamous epithelial cells. This selective loss of expression of keratin polypeptide markers of differentiation in SCC is associated with progressively more aggressive biologic behavior as the tumor invades deeper structures such as muscle and bone. Recurrent basal cell carcinoma (BCC) which was of the nodular type when first excised, shows features of morphea‐like BCC and of aggressive growth patterns at the deep invasive margin. At these deep margins, some tumors express markers of keratinization (65–67 Kd). While tumor cells retain the specificity of the intermediate filament, keratin, the individual cells express products of differentiation as measured by keratin expression independently of their cytologic atypia. At the deeper invasive margin of the tumor, the neoplastic cells synthesize keratin proteins in an unpredictable fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Dermatology

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