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J Pathol. 2005 Aug;206(4):377-82.

Differential expression of connexin 43 in gastrointestinal stromal tumours of gastric and small intestinal origin.

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Department of Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita, Japan.


Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are considered to originate from interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs). ICCs are classified into several subtypes according to their location or roles. Several reports indicate that GISTs of the small intestine appear to have different clinical and pathological characteristics from gastric GISTs. We previously found using a cDNA expression chip that connexin 43, a component of gap junctions, is expressed specifically in small intestinal GISTs but not in gastric GISTs. To confirm the specificity of connexin 43 expression, we analysed 10 small intestinal GISTs and 15 gastric GISTs by northern blotting, western blotting and immunohistochemistry in this study. Northern blotting was performed in five small intestinal GISTs and five gastric GISTs, and revealed connexin 43 mRNA expression in all of the five small intestinal GISTs, but in none of the gastric GISTs. By western blotting, bands corresponding to connexin 43 were easily detected in all of the five small intestinal GISTs studied but were absent in all five gastric GISTs analysed. Immunohistochemistry showed that all of the 10 small intestinal GISTs were positive for connexin 43 but only one of 15 gastric GISTs, which exhibited a mutation in exon 9 of the KIT gene, was connexin 43-positive. We also examined the localization of connexin 43 in the normal stomach and small intestine. Immunoreactivity for connexin 43 was present in both normal gastric and small intestinal circular muscle layers, but it was unclear which cell type was positive. These results suggest that GISTs are divided into at least two groups, namely the gastric subtype and the small intestinal subtype, through phenotype but not location. Furthermore, these data indicate that the gastric and the small intestinal subtypes of GIST may originate from different subtypes of ICC.

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