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Eur J Cancer. 1996 Mar;32A(3):512-7.

TTF-1 gene expression in human lung tumours.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biomediche, Universit√† di Udine, Italy.


Tissue-specific transcription factors control cell determination and differentiation. TTF-1 is a tissue-specific transcription factor expressed in the thyroid and lung. We investigated the expression of TTF-1 in normal human lung, and in various histopathological types of lung cancers by immunohistochemistry. In normal lung, TTF-1 expression was restricted to bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells. TTF-1 expression was found in 7 of the 29 cases of non-small cell lung carcinomas. In these tumours, the expression of TTF-1 did not correlate with the histological degree of differentiation. Results obtained using RNase protection assay confirmed that TTF-1 was expressed only in a subset of non-small cell carcinomas. TTF-1, as expected, was not expressed in neoplasms having a neuroendocrine cell origin, such as carcinoids. Interestingly, TTF-1 was always expressed in small cell lung carcinomas. These findings indicate that: (i) small cell lung carcinomas could originate from the endothermal cell lineage and (ii) dedifferentiation processes that operate in these neoplasms do not affect molecular mechanisms necessary for TTF-1 gene expression.

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