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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Differential expression of the chromosome 11 mucin genes in colorectal cancer.

The four secretory mucin genes clustered on chromosome 11, MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B and MUC6, were screened in 37 patients with cancers in the left hemi-colon or rectum and 10 normal rectal controls. The mucin genes were detected by in situ hybridization using oligonucleotide probes to the variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) sequences, while the proteins were stained with non-VNTR (MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC5B) or VNTR ( MUC6) antibodies. Low levels of MUC2 mRNA were detected in non-mucinous adenocarcinomas (5/27) while a higher proportion of mucinous carcinomas (4/9) was positive. All 25 cases of adjacent normal tissue expressed MUC2 mRNA. No transcripts for MUC5AC, MUC5B or MUC 6 were detected in any of these specimens. MUC2 protein product was detected immunohistochemically in 34/36 carcinoma specimens, with no change from normal controls. There was de novo expression of MUC5AC in 23/36 carcinomas. No MUC5B or MUC6 protein was detected. No difference in MUC2 and MUC5AC protein was found between mucinous and non-mucinous carcinomas. The level of MUC2 was increased in moderately differentiated cancers compared with normal controls and decreased in the poorly differentiated group. Decreased MUC2 was found in poorly differentiated compared with moderately differentiated tumours. More MUC5AC protein was detected in well and moderately differentiated tumours than in poorly differentiated tumours and in all tumours relative to controls. The pattern of MUC2 staining in cancers was different from control tissue, with strong staining in the perinuclear region and none in goblet cell vesicles. MUC5AC staining was mainly detected in the cytoplasm. Poor detection of MUC2 and MUC5AC mRNA and associated strong staining for the total protein suggests altered biosynthesis and processing, leading to the characteristic subcellular distribution. Hence, change in the synthesis of MUC2 and the de novo appearance of MUC5AC in colorectal carcinomas may be significant events in the adenoma-carcinoma sequence, with possible implications for tumour prognosis.[1]


  1. Differential expression of the chromosome 11 mucin genes in colorectal cancer. Sylvester, P.A., Myerscough, N., Warren, B.F., Carlstedt, I., Corfield, A.P., Durdey, P., Thomas, M.G. J. Pathol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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