Profiling of differentially expressed cancer-related genes in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) using human cancer cDNA arrays: overexpression of oncogene MET correlates with tumor differentiation in ESCC

Y C Hu, K Y Lam, S Law, J Wong, G Srivastava
Clinical Cancer Research 2001, 7 (11): 3519-25

PURPOSE: To examine the global gene expression of cancer-related genes in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) through the use of Atlas Human Cancer Array membranes printed with 588 well-characterized human genes involved in cancer and tumor biology.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Two human ESCC cell lines (HKESC-1 and HKESC-2) and one morphologically normal esophageal epithelium tissue specimen from the patient of which the HKESC-2 was derived were screened in parallel using cDNA expression arrays. The array results were additionally validated using semiquantitative PCR. The overexpression of oncogene MET was studied more extensively for its protein expression by immunohistochemistry in the two ESCC cell lines and their corresponding primary tissues and 61 primary ESCC resected specimens. Sixteen of these 61 ESCC cases also had available the corresponding morphologically normal esophageal epithelium tissues and were also analyzed for MET expression. The clinicopathological features associated with overexpression of the MET gene were also correlated.

RESULTS: The results of cDNA arrays showed that 13 cancer-related genes were up-regulated > or =2-fold (CDC25B, cyclin D1, PCNA, MET, Jagged 2, Integrin alpha3, Integrin alpha6, Integrin beta4, Caveolin-2, Caveolin-1, MMP13, MMP14, and BIGH3) and 5 genes were down-regulated > or =2-fold (CK4, Bad, IGFBP2, CSPCP, and IL-1RA) in both ESCC cell lines at the mRNA level. Semiquantitative RT-PCR analysis of 9 of these differentially expressed genes, including the MET gene, gave results consistent with cDNA array findings. The immunostaining results of the expression of MET gene showed that MET was overexpressed in both ESCC cell lines and their corresponding primary tumors at the protein level, validating the cDNA arrays findings. The results of the clinical specimens showed that the MET gene was overexpressed in ESCC compared with normal esophageal epithelium in 56 of 61 cases (92%). Moreover, the overexpression of MET protein was more often seen in well/moderately differentiated than in poorly differentiated ESCC.

CONCLUSIONS: Multiple cancer-related genes are differentially expressed in ESCC, the oncogene MET is overexpressed in ESCC compared with normal esophageal epithelium, and its protein overexpression correlates with tumor differentiation in ESCC.

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