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Cancer Res. 1987 Nov 15;47(22):6017-21.

Expression of cloned sequences in biopsies of human colonic tissue and in colonic carcinoma cells induced to differentiate in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Montefiore, Medical Center, Bronx, New York.


A computer-based scanning and image-processing system has been developed to quantitate the relative level of expression of each of 4000 cloned complementary DNA sequences in small biopsies routinely removed from the mucosa of normal and neoplastic human large intestine. Individuals have been studied from well-defined population groups in which colonic epithelial cells have progressed to increasingly advanced stages of neoplastic transformation. Comparison of normal colonic mucosa to colonic carcinomas demonstrated alterations in expression of approximately 7% of the cloned sequences; fewer changes were found between benign colonic adenomas and either normal colonic mucosa or carcinomas. A subset of the sequences which change in expression during progression from normal mucosa, to adenoma, to carcinoma showed complementary changes when colon carcinoma cells were induced to differentiate in vitro with sodium butyrate; quantitative correlations between in vivo and in vitro results were highly significant. Comparison of normal colonic mucosa with mucosa from patients with the autosomal dominant disease familial polyposis revealed more extensive alterations in gene expression involving approximately 25% of the clones screened. Flat colonic mucosa in familial polyposis is therefore markedly aberrant and may be highly dedifferentiated, suggesting several possible mechanisms for the very high incidence of cancer that develops in this epithelium.

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