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J Pathol. 1999 Dec;189(4):475-80.

Synthesis and protein distribution of the unspliced large tenascin-C isoform in oral squamous cell carcinoma.

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Institute of Pathology, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany.


The inclusion or omission of the alternatively spliced region in the tenascin-C (Tn-C) mRNA gives rise to the large (Tn-C(L)) or small (Tn-C(S)) variant, respectively. Tn-C(L) is thought to be a typical component of provisional extracellular matrices (ECMs) and is expressed during tumour stroma remodelling. Tn-C(L) synthesis has been studied using RNA/RNA in situ hybridization, and Tn-C(L) protein distribution, using immunohistochemistry (clone BC-2), in 18 oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) of different grades of malignancy. While the Tn-C(L) protein was demonstrated within the whole stromal compartment regardless of grade of malignancy, the majority of the Tn-C(L) mRNA signal-bearing cells were carcinoma cells. Only a few stromal myofibroblasts were able to synthesize Tn-C(L), as revealed by alpha-smooth muscle actin double staining. In well-differentiated carcinomas (G1), the Tn-C(L) synthesizing carcinoma cells were localized as a single positive cell layer in the tumour stroma interface, particularly in invasive areas. A higher grade of malignancy (G2/G3) is associated with a significantly increased number of Tn-C(L) synthesizing carcinoma cells randomly distributed within the invading tumour areas. Double-staining experiments (Tn-C(L) mRNA ISH/BC-2 immunohistochemistry) indicate that these cells are capable of organizing and depositing a three-dimensional Tn-C(L) matrix. Even though an instructive and/or inductive role of the carcinoma cells in tumour stroma formation cannot be excluded, these results demonstrate that carcinoma cells can directly produce the ECM components of tumour stroma.

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