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Cancer Res. 1990 Jun 1;50(11):3317-21.

Association of the 323/A3 surface glycoprotein with tumor characteristics and behavior in human breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine/Oncology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284-7884.


We have earlier described a monoclonal antibody (323/A3) against a Mr 43,000 surface glycoprotein of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells which shows considerable specificity for primary and metastatic breast tumors (Cancer Res., 46: 1306-1317, 1986). Here we report the occurrence of the 323/A3 antigen in a large cohort of primary breast tumors (m = 384) and its interrelationship with several clinically important variables. Frozen, stored tumor tissues were examined by a Western blot procedure, and the level of 323/A3 protein in individual tumors was calculated in arbitrary units based on the integrated Mr 43,000 signal in tumors compared with an MCF-7 internal standard. Thirty-six % (139 of 384) of tumors were found to be positive for 323/A3. Higher frequencies of 323/A3 protein were found in tumors larger than 2 cm (P = 0.03), tumors with infiltrated lymph nodes (P = 0.01), and tumors without estrogen receptor (P = 0.006). No significant relationship was found with patient age, menopausal status, or progesterone receptor status. Of the newer clinical determinants proliferative rate (% S phase), DNA ploidy, and the lysosomal protease cathepsin D, but not the HER-2/neu oncogene protein, were significantly correlated with 323/A3. The presence of 323/A3 protein was also related to increased recurrence (P = 0.003) and mortality (P = 0.036) after primary treatment. As an exposed surface antigen, this glycoprotein might be a useful target in radioimaging and immunotherapy of some human breast tumors, especially those having large size, infiltrated lymph nodes, deficient estrogen receptor, high proliferative rate, abnormal DNA content, and high levels of cathepsin D, all of which are ominous indicators of tumor behavior.

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