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J Biol Chem. 1988 Sep 15;263(26):12820-3.

A highly immunogenic region of a human polymorphic epithelial mucin expressed by carcinomas is made up of tandem repeats.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, United Kingdom.


The nucleotide sequences of partial cDNA clones coding for the core protein of a human polymorphic epithelial mucin were determined, and a large domain was found to consist of a 60-base pair tandem repeat sequence. The cDNA clones were originally selected (Gendler, S. J., Burchell, J. M., Duhig, T., Lamport, D., White, R., Parker, M., and Taylor-Papadimitriou, J. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 84, 6060-6064) using three monoclonal antibodies which show differential reactivity with the mucin produced by normal and malignant breast. Two of the epitopes are exposed in the normally processed and cancer-associated mucin, while one epitope is unmasked only in the cancer-associated mucin (Burchell, J. M., Durbin, H., and Taylor-Papadimitriou, J. (1983) J. Immunol. 131, 508-513; Burchell, J., Gendler, S., Taylor-Papadimitriou, J., Girling, A., Lewis, A., Millis, R., and Lamport, D. (1987) Cancer Res. 47, 5476-5482). We show here that all three antibodies react with a synthetic peptide with an amino acid sequence corresponding to that predicted by the tandem repeat. Identification of the epitopes preferentially expressed on the cancer-associated mucin should allow a directed approach to the development of tumor-specific antibodies using synthetic peptides as immunogens.

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