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Hum Pathol. 2001 Nov;32(11):1197-202.

MUC4 expression is increased in dysplastic cervical disorders.

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  • 1Unitat de Biologia Cel-lular i Molecular, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, and Servei de Patologia, Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.


The female uterine cervix has 2 characteristic populations of epithelial cells: the endocervix is composed by mucus-secreting cells that express several mucin genes, and the exocervix has a typical stratified squamous epithelium and does not express secreted mucins. Among human mucin genes, the MUC4 sequence has a transmembrane domain, and its molecular structure suggests that it has a protective role and also may be implicated in intracellular signalling. The aim of this study is to analyze whether changes in the expression of MUC4 can be detected associated with the squamous dysplastic transformation of exocervical epithelium. MUC4 expression has been analyzed by immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and in situ hybridization. Using immunohistochemical techniques, MUC4 is found in normal endocervix (n = 11) and is absent or only focally detected in the normal stratified cervical epithelium (n = 18). In samples from squamous metaplasia (n = 9), MUC4 is variably expressed (10% to 50% positive cells), whereas MUC4 is strongly detected in dysplastic cervical epithelia. The greatest number of positive cells is found in samples with moderate and severe dysplasia in which MUC4 is detected in 100% of the analyzed samples (n = 16). These results have been confirmed by Western blotting and by detection of MUC4 transcripts using in situ hybridization. The present data suggest that MUC4 is activated during the process of squamous dysplastic transformation and may be used as a marker for this pathologic process.

Copyright 2001 by W.B. Saunders Company

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