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Cancer Res. 1997 Feb 1;57(3):516-23.

Malignant transformation of nontrophoblastic cells is associated with the expression of chorionic gonadotropin beta genes normally transcribed in trophoblastic cells.

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  • 1Service de Biologie Oncologie, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.


The beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCGbeta) is encoded by four nonallelic CGbeta genes. An assay was developed for distinguishing type I CGbeta allelic genes beta7 and beta6, which possess a GCC codon corresponding to an alanine at position 117 of hCGbeta, from type II CGbeta genes beta8, beta5, and beta3 and its allele beta9, which possess a GAC codon corresponding to an aspartic acid at the same position. In normal trophoblast, hCGbeta is encoded by type II CGbeta genes, whereas normal nontrophoblastic tissues of differing histological origin (breast, prostate, skeletal muscle, bladder, adrenal glands, thyroid, colon, and uterus) express only type I CGbeta genes. We studied the expression of CGbeta genes in 86 tumor specimens collected from patients with breast, bladder, prostate, and thyroid cancer and found that up to 61% of these nontrophoblastic tumors expressed type II CGbeta genes. Experiments performed on tumor tissues and their normal counterparts confirmed that the malignant transformation of nontrophoblastic cells is associated with the expression of type II CGbeta genes. These findings provide the basis for a simple test (the CG117 assay) that may be useful for the diagnosis of the most frequent malignancies.

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