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Lab Invest. 2001 Jun;81(6):791-801.

Her-2/neu gene amplification, elevated mRNA expression, and protein overexpression in the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence of Barrett's esophagus.

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Institute of Pathology, and Department of Surgery, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.


The importance of alterations of the Her-2/neu oncogene in the tumorigenesis of Barrett's adenocarcinoma (BCA) is discussed controversially. In the present study, we evaluated for the first time the Her-2/neu status in the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence of BCA simultaneously at the DNA, mRNA, and protein level using resection specimens of 25 patients. The locus-specific Her-2/neu gene status was quantified by performing fluorescence in situ hybridization, and information about the ploidy status of chromosome 17 was obtained. Tissue sections from the same areas were used for quantitative RT-PCR (TaqMan RT-PCR) of laser-microdissected tumor cells and for immunohistochemistry to quantify Her-2/neu mRNA and oncoprotein expression. Her-2/neu gene amplification was observed in 35% of BCA, and all of these samples showed strong overexpression of both mRNA and oncoprotein. A polysomy 17 without Her-2/neu gene amplification was observed in 52% of BCA, showing a normal or moderately elevated mRNA expression and no or weak immunopositivity. From 13 areas of high-grade dysplasia (HGD) we found four to be amplified for the Her-2/neu locus, whereas five showed a polysomy 17. All four samples of HGD areas with Her-2/neu gene amplification displayed mRNA and strong oncoprotein overexpression; however, lower mRNA levels were seen than in the amplified BCA areas. None of the samples with low-grade dysplasia (LGD) showed a locus-specific Her-2/neu amplification, but polysomy 17 was present in four of eight cases. No changes were detected in BCA-associated intestinal metaplasia and squamous epithelium. In summary, only a locus-specific Her-2/neu gene amplification was associated with strong mRNA overexpression and strong membranous Her-2/neu immunostaining in BCA and HGD. A chromosome 17 polysomy, as found in the majority of BCA, led to no or weak mRNA overexpression and no or weak immunopositivity. In the metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma sequence, a chromosome 17 polysomy without Her-2/neu gene amplification was already present in LGD. This may be a result of an early polyploidization, preceding the later genetic events, such as Her-2/neu gene amplification in HGD and BCA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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