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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Aug;73(2):414-20.

Proopiomelanocortin gene expression in normal and tumoral human lung.

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Centre de Recherche sur les Maladies Endocriniennes et Métaboliques, INSERM U-129, CHU Cochin-Port Royal, Paris, France.


Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene expression is not restricted to the pituitary corticotroph cell, but also takes place in many normal and tumoral nonpituitary tissues. In contrast, the ectopic ACTH syndrome is a rare event. Because it is most often associated with lung tumors, we specifically studied this tissue, analyzing the different forms of POMC RNAs in normal specimens as well as in various types of tumors. The endocrine nature of the tumors was assessed by both histological examination and measurements of secretogranin-I fragments in the tissue extracts. POMC RNA was first detected by Northern blot analysis; its absolute amounts and its various molecular forms were more precisely quantified and discriminated by S1 mapping studies using a single stranded DNA probe located at the 5' end of exon 3. In five bronchial carcinoid tumors associated with the ectopic ACTH syndrome, a highly predominant, if not single, POMC RNA identical to the 1200-nucleotide (nt) pituitary message was present, the high amounts of which were correlated with those of POMC peptides in the same tissues. In five bronchial carcinoid tumors not associated with the ectopic ACTH syndrome, the same message was detected (four of five), with a second, often predominant, short RNA of about 800 nt (five of five), and the overall amounts of POMC RNAs were low. Similar patterns of POMC RNAs were observed in squamous cell tumors, adenocarcinomas, and normal lung, where the short 800-nt RNA tended to be predominant. These results show that POMC gene expression can be demonstrated in normal lung tissue and in all types of lung tumors. The ectopic ACTH syndrome only occurs with tumors capable of generating high amounts of the pituitary-like message, a phenomenon that seems to be restricted to an occasional tumor with features of neuroendocrine differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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