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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46699. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046699. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

MUC5B leads to aggressive behavior of breast cancer MCF7 cells.

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  • 1Inserm U995, Lille, France.


The mucin MUC5B has a critical protective function in the normal lung, salivary glands, esophagus, and gallbladder, and has been reported to be aberrantly expressed in breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. To understand better the implication of MUC5B in cancer pathogenesis, the luminal human breast cancer cell line MCF7 was transfected with a vector encoding a recombinant mini-mucin MUC5B and was then infected with a virus to deliver a short hairpin RNA to knock down the mini-mucin. The proliferative and invasive properties in Matrigel of MCF7 subclones and subpopulations were evaluated in vitro. A xenograft model was established by subcutaneous inoculation of MCF7 clones and subpopulations in SCID mice. Tumor growth was measured, and the tumors and metastases were assessed by histological and immunological analysis. The mini-mucin MUC5B promoted MCF7 cell proliferation and invasion in vitro. The xenograft experiments demonstrated that the mini-mucin promoted tumor growth and MCF7 cell dissemination. In conclusion, MUC5B expression is associated with aggressive behavior of MCF7 breast cancer cells. This study suggests that MUC5B may represent a good target for slowing tumor growth and metastasis.

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