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Anticancer Res. 1997 Mar-Apr;17(2B):1319-30.

Clinical and prognostic significance of the expression of the c-erbB-2 and c-erbB-3 oncoproteins in primary and metastatic malignant melanomas and breast carcinomas.

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Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.


Several growth factors and proto-oncogenes play a leading regulatory role during human carcinogenesis. In this systematic immunocytochemical study we observed the expression (overexpression) of the c-erbB-2 and c-erbB-3 oncoproteins in 30 primary cutaneous malignant melanomas (CMMs), 10 already metastasized malignant melanomas (MMMs) and 15 lymph-node negative breast carcinomas (BCs). Both oncoproteins were expressed as a result of either oncogene amplification or post-translational stabilization c-erbB-2 alone is unable to bind neuregulins, but it is able to act as a pan c-erbB receptor subunit. Heterodimerization between cerbB-2 and c-erbB-3 is required to initiate neuregulin directed signal transduction. We employed an indirect, four step streptavidinbiotin conjugated immunocytochemical technique for antigen detection. The visualization of the primary antigen-antibody reaction was carried out with alkaline phosphatase or immunoperoxidase labeling and the use of the appropriate enzymatic substrates. The presence of c-erbB-2 oncoprotein was detected in 12/30 CMMs, 8/10 MMMs and 6/15 BCs, while c-erbB-3 was identified in 14/30 CMMs, 7/10 MMMs and 6/15 BCs. The intensity of the cell membrane localized immunoreactivity was observed to be greater when the c-erbB-2 oncoprotein was targeted (A, AB and B). The c-erbB-3 oncoprotein was also detected in the cytoplasm with medium intensity (B, BC and C). Unfortunately, little is known concerning the range of oncoprotein overexpression after formalin fixation and paraffin embedding. We demonstrated overexpression localized to several cell clones within the oncoprotein positive population of malignant cells. The immunocytochemically defined extent of expression of both oncoproteins was between 10-40% (+ to +2) of the total cell population in the malignant melanomas and 20-35% (+2) of the total cell population in the BCs. In conclusion a) the results of the present study demonstrate the presence of c-erbB-2 and c-erbB-3 oncoprotein expression (overexpression) in melanoma and breast carcinoma, and b) oncogene receptor directed immunotherapy, as part of a more individualized anti-cancer treatment, represents a potentially valuable targeted treatment for the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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