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Eur J Cancer. 1997 Sep;33(10):1654-60.

Expression of osteonectin mRNA in human breast tumours is inversely correlated with oestrogen receptor content.

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  • 1Westmead Institute for Cancer Research, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.


Osteonectin is a secreted glycoprotein which is detected in a number of normal and neoplastic human tissues in vivo. It is an extracellular matrix (ECM)-associated protein which is postulated to regulate cell migration, adhesion, proliferation and matrix mineralisation and previous reports suggest that it may be modulated by steroid hormones in target tissues. The aim of this study was to measure osteonectin mRNA and protein expression in breast tumour biopsies and compare these with oestrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) levels in the same tumours. An inverse correlation was seen between osteonectin mRNA expression and ER level. Samples with low ER protein expression had a mean osteonectin mRNA level which was almost 4-fold greater than the mean level of expression observed in tumours containing high concentrations of ER protein. This inverse correlation was statistically significant. Despite the strong inverse relationship between osteonectin mRNA levels and tumour ER content, no correlation was seen when osteonectin protein concentration was measured in tumour cytosols on immunoblots and compared to ER and PR levels in the same tumours. However, since it is a secreted protein, osteonectin protein expression may not reflect cellular osteonectin levels in breast tumours. In summary, these data suggest that ER-mediated suppression of osteonectin gene expression may contribute to the less aggressive characteristics associated with receptor-positive tumours and that loss of ER expression may lead to over-expression of osteonectin and contribute to a poorer differentiated, more invasive phenotype.

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