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Oncogene. 2007 Sep 6;26(41):6093-8. Epub 2007 Apr 9.

Downregulation of Sef, an inhibitor of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, is common to a variety of human carcinomas.

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Department of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.


Carcinomas are tumors of epithelial origin accounting for over 80% of all human malignancies. A substantial body of evidence implicates oncogenic signaling by receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in carcinoma development. Here we investigated the expression of Sef, a novel inhibitor of RTK signaling, in normal human epithelial tissues and derived malignancies. Human Sef (hSef) was highly expressed in normal epithelial cells of breast, prostate, thyroid gland and the ovarian surface. By comparison, substantial downregulation of hSef expression was observed in the majority of tumors originating from these epithelia. Among 186 primary carcinomas surveyed by RNA in situ hybridization, hSef expression was undetectable in 116 cases including 72/99 (73%) breast, 11/16 (69%) thyroid, 16/31 (52%) prostate and 17/40 (43%) ovarian carcinomas. Moderate reduction of expression was observed in 17/186, and marked reduction in 40/186 tumors. Only 13/186 cases including 12 low-grade and one intermediate grade tumor retained high hSef expression. The association of hSef downregulation and tumor progression was statistically significant (P<0.001). Functionally, ectopic expression of hSef suppressed proliferation of breast carcinoma cells, whereas inhibition of endogenous hSef expression accelerated fibroblast growth factor and epidermal growth factor-dependent proliferation of cervical carcinoma cells. The inhibitory effect of hSef on cell proliferation combined with consistent downregulation in human carcinoma indicates a tumor suppressor-like role for hSef, and implicates loss of hSef expression as a common mechanism in epithelial neoplasia.

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