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Br J Cancer. 2006 Oct 9;95(7):921-7. Epub 2006 Sep 5.

Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K is over expressed, aberrantly localised and is associated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer.

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Department of Pathology, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.


Heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K) is a member of the hnRNP family which has several different cellular roles including transcription, mRNA shuttling, RNA editing and translation. Several reports implicate hnRNP K having a role in tumorigenesis, for instance hnRNP K increases transcription of the oncogene c-myc and hnRNP K expression is regulated by the p53/MDM 2 pathway. In this study comparing normal colon to colorectal cancer by proteomics, hnRNP K was identified as being overexpressed in this type of cancer. Immunohistochemistry with a monoclonal antibody to hnRNP K (which we developed) on colorectal cancer tissue microarray, confirmed that hnRNP K was overexpressed in colorectal cancer (P<0.001) and also showed that hnRNP K had an aberrant subcellular localisation in cancer cells. In normal colon hnRNP K was exclusively nuclear whereas in colorectal cancer the protein localised both in the cytoplasm and the nucleus. There were significant increases in both nuclear (P=0.007) and cytoplasmic (P=0.001) expression of hnRNP K in Dukes C tumours compared with early stage tumours. In Dukes C patient's good survival was associated with increased hnRNP K nuclear expression (P=0.0093). To elaborate on the recent observation that hnRNP K is regulated by p53, the expression profiles of these two proteins were also analysed. There was no correlation between hnRNP K and p53 expression, however, patients who presented tumours that were positive for hnRNP K and p53 had a poorer survival outcome (P=0.045).

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