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Gene. 1995 Jun 14;159(1):35-42.

Prognostic relevance of aberrations in the erbB oncogenes from breast, ovarian, oral and lung cancers: double-differential polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) for clinical diagnosis.

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Institut für Klinische Chemie und Laboratoriumsmedizin, Westfäische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany.


We have determined the average gene copy numbers (AGCN) of the erbB-1 gene, encoding the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R), the erbB-2 and the erbB-3 genes in breast, ovarian, oral, and lung cancer tissue by using double-differential PCR (ddPCR). The ddPCR method comprises the co-amplification of the single-copy gene HBB, the erbB-1, erbB-2 and erbB-3 oncogenes and the second single-copy reference gene SOD2 under equal reaction conditions. In a retrospective study the AGCN of the erbB genes and the time up to the appearance of metastases were subjected to life-table analysis in 128 women with primary breast cancer. Patients whose breast cancer tissue showed an AGCN for erbB-1 of less than 0.4 and greater then 1.6, as expected from the literature, for erbB-2 of greater than 2.0 and for erbB-3 of less than 1.75 had decreased disease-free survival (DFS). The quotient of erbB-1 and erbB-2 AGCN was the most significant in multivariate Cox analysis followed by nodal status and progesterone receptor status. In extensive studies a similar association between erbB AGCN and metastasis was seen in ovarian cancer and oral cancer, though erbB oncogene aberrations in those entities were not as frequent as in breast cancer. The AGCN of erbB oncogenes may not be of prognostic value in untreated lung cancer patients.

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