Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most frequent tumors of skin and muco-cutaneous junctions in the horse. Equine papillomavirus type 2 (EcPV2) has been detected in equine SCC of the oral tract and genitals, and recently also in the larynx. As human squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx (SCCL), it is strongly etiologically associated with high-risk papillomavirus (h-HPV) infection. This study focuses on tumor cells behavior in a naturally occurring tumor that can undergo the so-called epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). A SCCL in a horse was investigated by immunohistochemistry using antibodies against E-cadherin, pan-cytokeratin AE3/AE1, β-catenin, N-cadherin, vimentin, ZEB-1, TWIST, and HIF-1α. EcPV2 DNA detection and expression of oncogenes in SCC were investigated. A cadherin switch and an intermediate filaments rearrangement within primary site tumor cells together with the expression of the EMT-related transcription factors TWIST-1, ZEB-1, and HIF-1α were observed. DNA obtained from the tumor showed EcPV2 positivity, with E2 gene disruption and E6 gene dysregulation. The results suggest that equine SCCL might be a valuable model for studying EMT and the potential interactions between EcPV2 oncoproteins and the EMT process in SCCL.
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