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Histopathology. 2008 Nov;53(5):561-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2008.03157.x.

Expression of beta-dystroglycan is reduced or absent in many human carcinomas.

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1
Academic Unit of Pathology, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. s.s.cross@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

AIMS:

Dystroglycan is an important structural and signalling protein that is expressed in most human cells. alpha-Dystroglycan has been investigated and found to be reduced in human cancers, but there is only one published study on the expression of beta-dystroglycan in human cancer and that was only on small numbers of breast and prostatic cancers. The aim was to conduct a comprehensive immunohistochemical survey of the expression of beta-dystroglycan in normal human tissues and common cancers.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Triplicate tissue microarrays of 681 samples of normal human tissues and common cancers were stained using an antibody directed against the cytoplasmic component of beta-dystroglycan. beta-Dystroglycan was strongly expressed at the intercellular junctions and basement membranes of all normal human epithelia. Expression of beta-dystroglycan was absent or markedly reduced in 100% of oesophageal adenocarcinomas, 97% of colonic cancers, 100% of transitional cell carcinomas of the urothelium and 94% of breast cancers. In the breast cancers, the only tumours that showed any retention of beta-dystroglycan expression were small low-grade oestrogen receptor-positive tumours. The only cancers that showed retention of beta-dystroglycan expression were cutaneous basal cell carcinomas.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is loss or marked reduction of beta-dystroglycan expression (by immunohistochemistry) in the vast majority of human cancers surveyed. Since beta-dystroglycan is postulated to have a tumour suppressor effect, this loss may have important functional significance.

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