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J Histochem Cytochem. 2001 Dec;49(12):1581-92.

Altered GalNAc-alpha-2,6-sialylation compartments for mucin-associated sialyl-Tn antigen in colorectal adenoma and adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Kagoshima University Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima, Japan.


Sialyl-Tn (STn), a mucin-associated disaccharide antigen carried by apomucins such as MUC2, plays an important role in tumor biology. However, little is known about the subcellular localization and compartments involved in STn synthesis. In this study we used immunoelectron microscopy to localize STn and MUC2 apomucin in human colorectal tissues. MUC2 apomucin was localized predominantly in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) in normal colorectal mucosa (n=6), colorectal adenoma (n=8), and colorectal adenocarcinoma (n=10). STn, recognized by monoclonal antibody TKH2, was not readily detectable in normal colorectal mucosa but becomes manifest in both trans-Golgi apparatus and mucin droplets in colorectal adenoma. In colorectal adenocarcinoma, STn was localized not only in late but also in early Golgi compartments, and particularly in some RER lumens. Furthermore, electron microscopic in situ hybridization revealed that gold particles representing MUC2 mRNA are primarily localized over the RER. Our findings indicate that in colorectal adenoma STn sialylation takes place in the trans-Golgi apparatus, whereas in colorectal cancer STn sialylation occurs in all the Golgi compartments and in the RER.

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