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Int J Cancer. 1997 May 16;71(4):539-44.

Expression of alpha and beta genes of human chorionic gonadotropin in lung cancer.

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Hyogo Institute of Clinical Research, Kitaoji cho, Akashi, Japan.


To confirm the ectopic production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in lung cancer, we attempted to detect the presence of mRNA transcripts of the alpha and beta genes for hCG in lung cancer tissues obtained from surgical operations. Although we were able to show the presence of hCG beta mRNA transcripts in lung cancer tissue by Northern blot, the sensitivity of the assay was too low for a precise analysis of hCG beta mRNA transcripts in most lung cancers. Using reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and Southern blot analysis, however, various amounts of mRNA transcripts of hCG beta genes 3, 5, 7 and 8 were demonstrated in 9 of the 14 lung cancer tissues examined, while no mRNA transcripts were detectable in 12 normal lung tissues from the same patients. Our results are consistent with a clear difference in serum and urinary hCG beta levels observed between normal subjects and lung cancer patients. The expression of the hCG alpha gene, however, was detected in normal lung tissues more frequently than in lung cancer tissues using RT-PCR Southern blot. Our results strongly suggest the production of hCG beta as being part of the phenotype of malignantly transformed lung cells and further strengthen its superior specificity over intact hCG or hCG alpha as a tumor marker for lung cancers.

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