The Stem Cell-associated Transcription Factor SOX2 as a Diagnostic Marker of High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion of the Uterine Cervix in Comparison With p16 and Ki-67

Rebecca J. Wolsky, Lori N. Harbour, Kamran M. Mirza, Anthony G. Montag, Katja Gwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The transcription factor SOX2 has been identified as an oncogene involved in the pathogenesis of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of multiple sites, including the uterine cervix. The relationship between SOX2 overexpression and the continuum of precancerous lesions of the cervix has not been previously elucidated. We evaluated SOX2 immunohistochemical expression in normal cervix, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LSIL) (mild squamous dysplasia), high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) (moderate and severe dysplasia) and SCC of the cervix in comparison with p16 and Ki-67. Staining patterns were scored as negative, basal one third of the epithelium, lower two third, or full thickness. The results showed that SOX2 expression was limited to the basal one third in 84% of LSIL cases, whereas 95% of HSIL showed SOX2 expression up to two third or full thickness (P<0.0001). p16 and Ki-67 displayed similar results. The difference in SOX2 expression between moderate and severe dysplasia was not statistically significant (P=0.53). Invasive SCC positivity was as follows: SOX2 94%; p16 89%; and Ki-67 100%. Our findings support a role for SOX2 in the progression of squamous dysplasia to SCC. The Lower Anogenital Standardization Terminology Project’s recent assertion of a lack of a biological correlate to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia II is also upheld by SOX2. For equivocal situations in which a diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia II would have been made, Lower Anogenital Standardization Terminology recommends p16, or other biomarkers such as Ki-67 to clarify the diagnosis. SOX2, with a clean nuclear staining pattern, may also be suitable for this role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 3 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medicine(all)
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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