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Transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP), a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter super family, is composed of two integral membrane proteins, TAP-1 and TAP-2. The TAP gene product is involved in the processing of endogenous peptides that bind to MHC class I molecules. Mutations and/or polymorphism within these genes could alter the efficacy of the immune response which might be relevant for the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer.
DNA was isolated from peripheral blood sample of 200 patients with cervical cancer and 200 healthy controls. TAP1 and TAP2 allele polymorphism were determined by polymerase chain reaction.
Significant protective OR (OR=0.22 95% CI=0.09–0.51, P<0.001-OR=0.47, 95% CI=0.24–0.92, P=0.02) was observed for GG and combined AG+GG genotypes of TAP2 in patients with SCC respectively. Similarly, such genotypes (GG, AG+GG) appeared same OR for patient with cervical cancer in study group (OR=0.12, 95% CI=0.04–0.39-P<0.001-OR=0.5 ,95% CI=0.25–0.95-P=0.03). There was decrease risk of cervical cancer in user of oral contraceptive with AG and GG genotypes of TAP2 (OR=0.55, 95% Cl=0.41–0.73, P=0.002, OR=0.09, 95% CI=0.02–0.36, P<0.001) respectively. In case of TAP1 gene all allelic polymorphisms showed a decrease OR in patients with cervical cancer in passive smokers and user of oral contraceptives, though, no significant
Thus, TAP1 and TAP2 genes polymorphism are not linked to cervical carcinoma, since no association was found between a particular genotype and the disease.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and an significant cause of death in women worldwide . It is widely accepted that specific human papillomavirus (HPV) types are central etiologic agent of cervical carcinogenesis. Other environmental and host factors also play decisive roles in the persistence of HPV infection and further malignant conversion of cervical epithelium . Because many previous reports have focused on HPV and environmental factors, the role of host susceptibility to cervical carcinogenesis is largely unknown. Epidimiological studies have proposed a range of factors, such as human leukocyte antigen type, immune suppression, sex steroid hormones, and smoking, that may be involved in the progression of cervical cancer . Cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, is present in measurable concentrations in the cervical mucus of women who smoke cigarette regularly . It can also be present in the cervical mucus of nonsmoking women, which suggest that passive smoking conteributs to genotoxic and immunomodulatory effects, including carcinogenesis .
The transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) is a critical component of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen presentation .
MHC class I molecules are expressed at low levels in most cells and are strongly induced by cytokines such as interferons that increased expression of MHC class I molecules correlates with increased CTL function .
Therefore, both the TAPs are up-regulated by IFN-γ about 10-fold within 24 h, accompanied by an increased peptide transport capacity . Polymorphism in the TAP genes has been described in various species. In some tumor tissues, a down-regulation of TAP mRNA by an unknown mechanism or mutation of TAP was observed . The observed frequency of TAP gene deletions (86%) has been found considerably higher than the frequency of MHC class I gene mutations, and the majority of the TAP gene deletions are homozygous, where TAP allelic polymorphism allows this to be confirmed .
The suppression of TAP may be a mechanism for tumor cells to escape the immune response (11). The rat TAP2 polymorphism is associated with different peptide binding specificities and functional differences in the MHC class I peptide complexes thereby also affecting T cell responses . Polymorphism of the human TAP1 gene in healthy volunteers and individuals with autoimmune disease has been systematically analyzed . Also, Kim et al.  suggested that TAP1 gene polymorphism may be an important factor contributing to the genetic susceptibility in the development of allergic rhinitis in the Korean population.
The cervical cancer seem to be under immune selection pressure, because an increased relative risk for cervical cancer in chronically immunosuppressed patients has been observed . Vermeulen et al.  showed that defective TAP expression in cervical carcinoma is often associated with loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in the TAP region but not with mutations in the TAP1 gene. The aim of our study was to determine whether there was an association between TAP1 and TAP2 genes polymorphism and susceptibility to cervical cancer in northern India women. Under this hypothesis, we tested combination of TAP1 and TAP2 genotypes with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), adenocarcinoma (AC) and the interaction of these genes with smoking habit and use of oral contraceptive .
The case-control study involved collection of peripheral blood samples (2–5 ml) of 400 North Indian subjects. 200 cases were newly diagnosed, previously untreated and histologically confirmed as cervical cancer patients. The samples were collected from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh and Government Medical College (GMC), Chandigarh. The control peripheral blood samples (n=200) were collected from the same institute with no history of cancer or pre cancer. The control samples were collected from women visiting the gynecology OPD (out patient department) clinic for routine check up without any past medical history of gynecology disorder including cervical diseases.
Informed consent was obtained from all the cases and controls. Detailed data regarding age, use of oral contraceptives, education, menarche, and menopausal status, number of children, age at marriage and birth of first child, cigarette smoking history and spouse’s smoking history were also obtained.
Genomic DNA was extracted from EDTA anti-coagulated peripheral blood samples according to a standard proteinase K digestion and phenol chloroform extraction method . It was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The oligonucleotides were used as primers for TAP1( C/T intron 7), Forward:GTGCTCTCACGTTCCAAGGA, Reverse: AGGAGTAGAGATAGAAGAACC and TAP2 (A/G exon 11), Forward:3- GGTGATTGCTCACAGGCTGCCG Reverse: CACAGCTCTAGGGAAACTC. Amplification reactions were carried out in 25-µL of reaction mixture containing 100 ng genomic DNA, 0.25 mmol/L dNTPs, 2 mmol/L MgCl2, 10 mMTris-HCl (pH=8.3). 50 mM KCl, 1.5 units of Taq polymerase (MBI Fermentas, Burlington, Ontario, Canada), and 0.3 mmol/L of each primer (Sigma-Aldrich, USA). PCR was carried out at 95°C for 2.5 min, 30 cycles of 30 s at 95°C, 30 s at 55°C, and 72°C for 30 s, followed by a final 5 min at 70°C.( Amplification reactions and PCR condition were same for both genes).
Restriction digestion: RFLP assay was performed in a 15 µL reaction mixture containing PCR product (10 µL), buffer (1.6 µL), enzyme (Msp1, 3 unit per reaction) and distilled water (3 µl). The reaction mixture was incubated at 37°C for 3 h. After digestion, for TAP1, T allele gave a product of 183 bp and the C allele gave two fragments of 161 and 22 bp, in case of TAP2 with same condition AA genotypes were identified by the presence of only 225 bp fragment, AG genotype by the presence of 225, 205, 20 bp fragments and GG genotype by 205 and 20 bp fragments.
The association between polymorphism in TAP1 and TAP2 genes with the risk of cervical cancer was estimated by computing odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI), using a multivariate logistic regression analysis that included several potential confounding variables. The Statistical analysis was performed using Epi-Info software (Epi-Info, version 3.2, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA) and software SPSS version 10.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL) . Significance was set at P<0.05.
The genotype of the TAP1 and TAP2 genes in cervical cases and healthy controls derived from north India population was analyzed.
Demographic variables for cases and controls have been summarized in Table 1. The variables have also been categorized for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma (AC) cervical cancer; 175 were identified as SCC and 25 as AC.
The mean±SD age was 48.55±9.43 years in the study group and 48.81±9.64 years in the control group. Compared with the controls, the study group had younger age at the time of the marriage (16.36±3.39) and of the birth of first child (18.39±3.39) and had a greater median number of children (4.11 vs 2.50). Ages at menarche and menopause were found to be comparable between cases and controls.
As shown in Table 2, the distribution of TAP1 genotypes among cervical cancer cases and controls. The frequency of TC genotype was greater in cases (91.0%) than controls (87.0%), while those of CC genotype was higher in controls (8.0%) than cases (4.0%). In case of TAP2 , the frequency of AA (16%) and AG (80.5%) genotypes was greater in cases than controls (8.5%,76% respectively). On the other hand, GG genotype of TAP2 was more frequent in control (15.5%) than cases (3.5%).
The association between the TAP genes and cervical cancer is summarized in Table 2. In case of TAP1, marginal risk of cervical cancer was found in individuals with TC and combined TT + CC (OR=1.05, 95% CI=0.39–2.79–OR=1.0, 95% CI=0.37–2.67) genotypes respectively. There was a decrease in OR (OR=0.50, 95% CI=0.12–2.0) for CC genotype as well. A highly significant decrease was observed in the OR of patients carrying GG and combined AA+GG genotypes of TAP2 (OR=0.12, 95% CI, 0.04–0.39, P<0.001 and OR=0.50, 95% CI=0.25–0.95, P=0.03 respectively).
When the genotypes of TAP1 were stratified according to histological subtypes (Table 3), there was no association between TAP1 genotypes and type of cervix cancer. A significant decrease in OR was observed for patients with GG and combined AA + GG genotypes of TAP2 for SCC (OR=0.22, 95% CI=0.09–0.51, P<0.001 and OR=0.47, 95% CI=0.24–0.92, P=0.02 respectively).
None of the genotypes of TAP1 and TAP2 were found to be significantly associated with the risk of cervical cancer in passive smokers (Table 4)
The relationship between TAP1 and TAP2 genotypes and use of oral contraceptives are given in Table 5. There was an decreased OR in patients using oral contraceptives having TAP1 (TC) genotype (OR=0.81, 95% CI=0.41–1.60). In case of TAP2, statistically significant relationship was found between the use of oral contraceptives and decreased risk of cervical cancer in those having TAP2 (AG and GG) genotypes (OR=0.55, 95% CI=0.41–0.73, P=0.002 and OR=0.09, 95% CI=0.02–0.36, P<0.001 respectively).
To the best of our knowledge, no such study has been carried out on cervical cancer. So this is the first case-control study which has analyzed the effect of TAP gene polymorphism on the risk of developing cervical cancer in north Indian population. The importance of host factors, particularly immunoregulatory genes, in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer has become more evident over the past decade. Longitudinal studies have shown that most women exposed to high risk types of HPV clear the virus [17, 18]. A smaller subset has intermittent virus present in the genital mucosa, but about 11% of women have consistent detectable virus in the mucosal tissues after exposure . The factors that result in persistent carriage of the virus are unknown, but one factor appears to be the absence of a cytotoxic T-cell response with which to clear the virus .
The present study sought to identify the possible link between TAP gene polymorphisms and the risk of developing cervical cancer in north Indian population. No association has been identified between risk of cervical cancer and TAP1 and TAP2 genes polymorphism. Fowler et al  demonstrated that TAP2 AB genotype, having high frequency in patients with cervical cancer, may be relevant to evolution of cervical cancer from precursor lesions. Hodson et al  did not found any association between TAP2 gene polymorphism and renal cell carcinoma. It has been reported that a neoplastic transformation is frequently associated with impaired TAP expression . In addition, lack of TAP resulted in reduction of MHC class 1 antigen in various cancers . Loss of MHC class 1 antigen expression on the cell surface is assumed to allow tumors to avoid being killed by cytotoxic T lymphocytes .
The limitations of the present study are as follows: first the present study is hospital-based and exist in environment; therefore, it can’t be free from any selection bias. Second, the current study didn’t include all clustered polymorphism site of TAP1, TAP2 and associated genes; the haplotypes analysis could not be done. So it would be worthwhile to perform further large scale population-based study including the analysis of various clustered polymorphisms. In conclusion, in north Indian population, TAP1 and TAP2 genotypes are not associated with increased risk of cervical cancer.
The authors are grateful to University Grant Commission (UGC) -New Delhi, India, and University of Sistan and Baluchistan-Zahedan, Iran, for supporting this project financially.