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Hum Pathol. 1997 Mar;28(3):344-52.

MUC2 gene expression is found in noninvasive tumors but not in invasive tumors of the pancreas and liver: its close relationship with prognosis of the patients.

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  • 1Second Department of Pathology, Kagoshima University School of Medicine, Kagoshima City, Japan.


We have previously reported that MUC2 apomucin was highly expressed in noninvasive tumors of the pancreas (intraductal papillary tumor [IdPT]) and liver (bile duct cystadenocarcinoma [BdCC]), which show more favorable outcomes than invasive carcinomas. In contrast, MUC2 was rarely expressed in invasive carcinomas of the pancreas (invasive ductal carcinoma [IDC]) and the liver (invasive cholangiocarcinoma [ICC]). In the present study, we examined localization of MUC2 messenger RNA (MUC2 mRNA) by using a complementary DNA (cDNA) probe for the MUC2 tandem repeat for in situ hybridization (pHAM1). Localization of MUC2 apomucin was determined by using an antibody directed against MUC2 apomucin (anti-MRP) for immunohistochemistry study. Eleven IdPTs and 10 IDCs of the pancreas, and 8 BdCC and 8 ICCs of the liver were examined. Nine (82%) of 11 IdPTs showed positive expression of MUC2 mRNA in the neoplastic cells, whereas none (0%) of the IDCs showed expression of MUC2 mRNA. Six (75%) of the 8 BdCCs showed positive expression of MUC2 mRNA in the neoplastic cells, whereas none (0%) of the 8 ICCs showed expression of MUC2 mRNA. The localization of MUC2 mRNA and that of MUC2 apomucin usually coincided, although a few cases (1 IDC, 1 BdCC, and 1 ICC) showed focal expression of MUC2 apomucin despite the absence of detectable MUC2 mRNA. These results indicate that the expression of MUC2 apomucin in IdPTs and BdCCs correlates with expression of MUC2 mRNA. In both patient groups with pancreatic tumors and hepatic tumors, patients with positive MUC2 mRNA expression in the tumors showed significantly better survival than those with negative MUC2 mRNA expression in the tumors. The production of MUC2, an abundant extracellular mucin, by most IdPTs and BdCCs may be correlated with tumors that display lower levels of invasion and metastasis.

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