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Characterization and molecular cloning of a novel MUC1 protein, devoid of tandem repeats, expressed in human breast cancer tissue.

Zrihan-Licht S., Vos H.L., Baruch A., Elroy-Stein O., Sagiv D., Keydar I., Hilkens J., Wreschner D.H.

The human breast cancer marker protein, MUC1, is a polymorphic transmembrane molecule containing a large extracellular domain that is primarily composed of a variable number of highly conserved 20-amino-acid tandem repeats. We report here the detection of a novel invariantly sized 1.2-kb MUC1 mRNA, in addition to the large polymorphic mRNAs, by probing Northern blots with MUC1-cDNA-unique-sequence probes. The nucleotide sequence of this novel MUC1 mRNA demonstrates that it is identical to the MUC1 cDNA sequences downstream and upstream to the tandem-repeat array of the transmembrane form of MUC1. However, it contains neither the central tandem repeat array itself nor its directly flanking sequences that are deleted by a differential splicing event utilizing splice acceptor and donor sequences 5' and 3' to the tandem-repeat array. The splice event retains, downstream to the splice acceptor site, an open reading frame identical to that of the repeat-array-containing MUC1 thereby generating the novel MUC1/Y protein. Cells transiently transfected with the novel MUC1/Y cDNA express the MUC1/Y protein that is modified by glycosylation. The MUC1/Y protein is also readily detected in human breast cancer cells grown in vitro. Furthermore, primary breast cancer tissue samples demonstrate significant levels of the MUC1/Y protein whereas expression in tissue adjacent to the tumor is undetectable. Molecular characterization presented here, of the novel MUC1/Y molecule lacking the repeat array, suggests that it is likely to play a role distinct to that of the polymorphic repeat-array-positive MUC1 protein and that it may act as a new marker protein for human breast cancer.

Eur. J. Biochem. 224:787-795(1994) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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