Honors Theses

Examining NDUFAB1 Expression in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Addison L. Stevens, University of South Alabama


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) accounts for around 4% of all cancers in the USA. HNSCC includes cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx. Reprogramming of mitochondrial metabolism has been known to promote oncogenesis. NDUFAB1, a nuclear encoded subunit of respiratory complex I (RCI) in the inner mitochondrial membrane, is abundantly expressed at the mRNA level in HNSCC patients. Based on this finding, we hypothesize that NDUFAB1 protein expression is high in HNSCC and that NDUFAB1 expression predicts a poor prognosis in HNSCC patients. We determined NDUFAB1 expression in HNSCC using immunohistochemistry and pathology guided digital imaging and used this data, along with patients’ cancer stage, tumor grade, age, sex, and survival to determine HNSCC outcome. The results showed a statistically significant increase in NDUFAB1 protein expression in cancer tissues compared to normal controls. There was also a statistically significant correlation between NDUFAB1 expression in normal tissues and progressive clinical stage and tumor grade, along with patients’ age. However, there was a statistically insignificant association between NDUFAB1 expression and the patients’ sex and survival, as well as between clinical stages and tumor grades.