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Br J Cancer. 2003 Feb 24;88(4):579-85.

hAG-2 and hAG-3, human homologues of genes involved in differentiation, are associated with oestrogen receptor-positive breast tumours and interact with metastasis gene C4.4a and dystroglycan.

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Oxford Glycosciences, Abingdon, Oxon, UK.


hAG-2 and hAG-3 are recently discovered human homologues of the secreted Xenopus laevis proteins XAG-1/2 (AGR-1/2) that are expressed in the cement gland, an ectodermal organ in the head associated with anteroposterior fate determination during early development. Although the roles of hAG-2 and hAG-3 in mammalian cells are unknown, both proteins share a high degree of protein sequence homology and lie adjacent to one another on chromosome 7p21. hAG-2 mRNA expression has previously been demonstrated in oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive cell lines. In this study, we have used real-time quantitative RT - PCR analysis and immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays to demonstrate concordant expression of hAG-2 and hAG-3 mRNA and protein in breast tumour tissues. Tumour expression of both genes correlated with OR (hAG2, P=0.0002; hAG-3, P=0.0012), and inversely correlated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) (P=0.003). Yeast two-hybrid cloning identified metastasis-associated GPI-anchored C4.4a protein and extracellular alpha-dystroglycan (DAG-1) as binding partners for both hAG-2 and hAG-3, which if replicated in clinical oncology would demonstrate a potential role in tumour metastasis through the regulation of receptor adhesion and functioning. hAG-2 and hAG-3 may therefore serve as useful molecular markers and/or potential therapeutic targets for hormone-responsive breast tumours.

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