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Ann Oncol. 1999;10 Suppl 4:51-5.

Mucin gene and antigen expression in biliopancreatic carcinogenesis.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Mucins are high molecular weight glycoproteins which are heavily glycosylated with many carbohydrate side chains. In epithelial cancers such as biliopancreatic cancer, both quantitative and qualitative alterations in carbohydrate and polypeptide moieties of mucin glycoproteins occur. These changes in mucin glycoproteins are one of the most common phenotypic markers of biliopancreatic carcinogenesis and may play an important pathobiological role. The expression of some of the sialylated carbohydrate antigens appears to correlate with a poor prognosis and increased metastatic potential in biliopancreatic cancer. The increased exposure of peptide epitopes of mucin glycoproteins in biliopancreatic cancer appears to be due to either abnormal glycosylation and/or altered levels of mucin gene transcription. In addition, dysregulation of tissue specific mucin gene expression occurs in biliopancreatic cancer. This information is currently being exploited for further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis, tumor progression and metastasis, and the development of novel methods of diagnosis and therapy of biliopancreatic cancer.

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