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Cancer Res. 2000 May 1;60(9):2390-8.

Identification of the messenger RNA for human cutaneous fatty acid-binding protein as a metastasis inducer.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.


Using our recently developed systematic differential display and complete comparison of gene expression approaches combined with other methods, we have identified a large number of mRNAs that are expressed differentially between benign and malignant human cells. One such mRNA that is common to prostate and breast carcinoma cell lines encodes the human cutaneous fatty acid-binding protein (C-FABP). Northern and slot blot analyses confirm that the expression levels of C-FABP mRNA in the malignant prostate and breast carcinoma cell lines are 4.9+/-0.9- to 16.9+/-2.1-fold higher than those expressed in the benign cell lines. A similar difference between the benign and malignant cell lines was also detected at the protein level. In situ hybridization experiments have detected overexpression of the mRNA for C-FABP in human prostate carcinoma tissues. Transfection of a C-FABP expression construct into the benign, nonmetastatic rat mammary epithelial cell line Rama 37 and inoculation of the C-FABP expression transfectants into syngeneic Wistar-Furth rats produce a significant number (P < 0.05) of animals with metastases (6 of 26 animals), whereas the control transfectants generated by the vector alone yield no such metastases. Measurements of mRNA and protein levels with Northern and Western blotting show that C-FABP is not expressed in the control transfectant cells produced by the vector alone but is highly expressed in the pool of C-FABP transfectants and-the sublines established from their metastases. Immunocytochemical staining with antibodies to C-FABP shows that C-FABP is not expressed in the primary tumors developed from the control transfectants that have failed to metastasize, but it is expressed in both the primary tumors developed from the C-FABP transfectants and their metastases. Reinoculation of the sublines established from metastases in syngeneic rats has produced a higher proportion (50%) of animals (7 of 14 animals) with metastases than that obtained in the first-round inoculations, indicating that the metastatic clones have been preferentially selected from the original pool of metastatic and nonmetastatic transfectant clones. These results have demonstrated that elevated expression of C-FABP can induce metastasis and that metastatic capability has been transferred in a genetically dominated manner in this Rama 37 model. Thus, we suggest that C-FABP is a metastasis-inducing gene, and under suitable conditions, it may induce metastasis of some human cancers.

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