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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 2;276(9):6191-9. Epub 2000 Nov 17.

A stat-responsive element in the promoter of the episialin/MUC1 gene is involved in its overexpression in carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Division of Tumor Biology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The mucin-like glycoprotein episialin (MUC1) is highly overproduced by a number of human carcinomas. We have shown previously in a variety of mammalian cell lines that overexpression of this very large transmembrane molecule diminishes cellular adhesion, suggesting that episialin/MUC1 overexpression may play an important role in tumor invasion and metastasis. By using in situ hybridization, we show here that episialin/MUC1 mRNA expression can be increased more than 10-fold in breast carcinoma cells relative to the expression in adjacent normal breast epithelium. In search of the molecular mechanism of this overexpression, we observed that the episialin/MUC1 promoter contains a candidate binding site for transcription factors of the STAT family approximately 500 base pairs upstream of the transcription start site. Cytokines and/or growth factors such as interleukin-6 or interferon-gamma can activate STATs. In the human breast carcinoma cell line T47D, both compounds are able to stimulate transcription of a luciferase reporter gene under the control of a 750-base pair MUC1 promoter fragment proximal to the transcription start site. The observed increase is entirely mediated by the single STAT-binding site, since mutation of this site abolishes stimulation of the reporter by interleukin-6 and interferon-gamma. In addition, mutation of the STAT site also decreased the promoter activity in nonstimulated T47D cells, suggesting that the STAT-binding site is among the elements that are involved in the overexpression of MUC1 in tumor cells.

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