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Front Biosci. 2001 Oct 1;6:D1264-75.

Normal respiratory mucosa, precursor lesions and lung carcinomas: differential expression of human mucin genes.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie et Biologie Moleculaire, Hopital C. Huriez. CHRU Lille, France, Faculte de Medecine, Universite de Lille II, Lille, France.


Mucins are glycoproteins synthesized by epithelial cells and thought to promote tumor-cell invasion. Eight human mucin genes have been well characterized: MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6 map to 11p15.5 and encode secretory gel forming mucins while MUC1, MUC3, MUC4, MUC7 are scattered on different chromosomes and encode membrane-bound or secreted mucins. The expression pattern of the mucin genes is complex in normal airways involving six genes, mainly MUC5AC and MUC5B in mucus-producing cells and MUC4 in a wide array of epithelial cells. MUC5AC overexpression in metaplasia, dysplasia and normal epithelium adjacent to squamous cell carcinoma provides additional arguments for a mucous cell origin of preneoplastic squamous lesions. MUC5AC and MUC5B expression is related to mucus formation in adenocarcinomas. Mucinous bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) has a particular pattern of mucin gene expression indicating that it has sustained a well-differentiated phenotype similar to the goblet cell, correlated with distinctive features i.e. a noninvasive pattern and a better prognosis than nonBACs. MUC4 is the earlier mucin gene expressed in the foregut, before epithelial differentiation and is expressed independently of mucus secretion both in normal adult airways and carcinomas. These findings are in favor the histogenetic theory of non-small-cell carcinoma originating from a pluripotent mucous cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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