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

High expression of the novel endothelin-converting enzyme genes, Nbla03145/ECEL1alpha and beta, is associated with favorable prognosis in human neuroblastomas.

The clinicobiological feature of neuroblastoma is enigmatic because spontaneous regression often occurs in early stages of tumors of the patients under 1 year of age, while rapid growth usually occurs in the tumors of the patients over 1 year of age. Such difference in the clinical behavior may be caused by the difference in the pattern of gene expression among the subsets of neuroblastoma. To understand the molecular basis of neuroblastoma biology, we decided to identify the novel genes expressed differentially between favorable and unfavorable neuroblastomas. The oligo-capping cDNA libraries were constructed from different subsets of neuroblastomas. After random selection and DNA sequencing, the differentially expressed genes between favorable and unfavorable neuroblastomas were screened by reverse transcriptase-PCR. The clinical significance of gene expression was evaluated based on the results of Northern blot analysis. We have identified a novel gene Nbla03145 (alpha), also cloned and termed by another group as ECEL1, which encodes a new member of putative zinc-binding metalloendopeptidase (endothelin-converting enzyme) with unknown substrate. We also cloned a COOH-terminally truncated Nbla03145/ECEL1beta which is expressed only in thymus. In primary NBLs, the alpha isoform is more preferentially expressed than the beta isoform. High levels of Nbla03145/ECEL1 expression were significantly correlated with a younger age (p=0.0005), lower stages (p=0.0019), high level of TrkA expression (p</=0.00005), a single copy of MYCN (p<0.00005) and the tumors found by mass screening (p<0.00005). Decreased expression of Nbla03145/ECEL1 mRNA was significantly associated with poor prognosis (log-rank test: p=0.012). The present results have shown that expression of Nbla03145/ECEL1 is a novel prognostic marker of neuroblastoma. Further analysis of the gene may also give a cue to the understanding of the role of endothelin-like signaling in neuroblastoma and to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against aggressive tumors.[1]


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