Background/Purpose: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is an aggressive tumor and its occurrence in Taiwan is closely related to chronic smoking, alcohol consumption, and especially to betel quid chewing. It became the fourth most common malignant tumor of Taiwanese men in 2006. Unfortunately, there are few biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Methods: To find potential markers, two domestic cell lines (OC2 and OCSL) derived from different grades of OSCC were established and their proteins were compared by global proteomic analysis. The expression differences of GRP78 protein in these two cell lines and clinical samples from OSCC patients were verified. Results: Of the 11 candidate proteins expressed differentially in both cell lines, six [heat shock protein 90 kDa beta member 1 (94kDa glucose-regulated protein; GRP94), protein disulfide-isomerase precursor, vimentin, tubulin beta-2C chain, 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein precursor (GRP78), and annexin A2] were increased in OC2 cells (low-grade OSCC), and five (heat shock protein 90-beta, annexin A1, stress-induced phosphoprotein 1, elongation factor-2, and integrin alpha-3 precursor) were increased in OCSL cells (high-grade OSCC). Some of these proteins have been previously associated with malignant tumors, but no previous association of GRP78 with OSCC has been reported. GRP78 protein expression in these two OSCC cell lines was confirmed by Western blotting. Immunohistochemical staining of clinical samples from OSCC patients revealed that decreased GRP78 protein expression was significantly correlated with advance tumor stage (p < 0.001) and neck lymph node metastasis (p = 0.001). Conclusion: GRP78 protein is a possible biomarker of oral cancer in Taiwan.
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