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Am J Pathol. 1996 Feb;148(2):579-92.

Expression of fibronectin ED-A+ and ED-B+ isoforms by human and experimental colorectal cancer. Contribution of cancer cells and tumor-associated myofibroblasts.

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Research Group on Gastrointestinal Tumors, INSERM, Faculty of Medicine, Dijon, France.


Alternative splicing of primary fibronectin (FN) mRNA results in the synthesis of different isoforms. ED-A+ and ED-B+ FN isoforms are absent from plasma FN and are representative of cellular FN. Their expression was studied in human and rat normal colon, in human colorectal carcinomas, and in transplanted tumors derived from a chemically-induced rat colon cancer. In normal colon, only the ED-A+ FN isoform was expressed as a thin deposit between crypt colonocytes and pericryptal myofibroblasts. Conversely, heavy ED-A+ FN deposits and lighter ED-B+ FN expression were found in the stroma of colorectal tumors in association with myofibroblasts surrounding tumor glands. Some colonic cancer cells also contained intracellular FN isoform granules and expressed FN mRNA. Tumor-associated myofibroblasts and some cancer cell lines were able to synthesize and deposit extracellular ED-A+ and ED-B+ FN in vitro. FN isoform deposition by tumor-associated myofibroblasts was not modulated by colon cancer cell-conditioned medium, but was strongly enhanced when myofibroblasts were cultured on colon cancer cell extracellular matrix or on laminin. These results show that the ED-A+ and ED-B+ FN isoforms were overexpressed in colorectal cancer. Cancer cells can deposit these FN isoforms directly and also stimulate their deposition by tumor-associated myofibroblasts.

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