MUC1 Mucin Gene, Transcripts, and Protein in Adenomas and Papillary Carcinomas of the Thyroid
AbstractMUC1 mucin is found in a variety of epithelial tissues and is overexpressed in several epithelial cancers. This molecule could modulate cellular adhesion and thereby influence tumor invasion and metastasis. Little is known of MUC1 gene expression in thyroid tissues. We investigated whether MUC1 mucin gene alteration and/or expression correlated with thyroid tumor progression by studying 21 fresh thyroid tissue specimens comprising 10 macrofollicular adenomas and 11 papillary carcinomas. Normal adjacent tissue from the same patients was also studied. To determine the integrity and expression of the MUC1 mucin gene, a complementary DNA (cDNA) probe was used for Southern blot analysis of DNA and Northern blot analysis of RNA. A detailed immunohistochemical analysis of MUC1 protein expression was performed with DF3 monoclonal antibody, and was compared with other tumor characteristics and clinical manifestations at diagnosis. Of the 14 tumors informative (heterozygous) with the pMUCIO polymorphic probe, 2 (14%) showed loss of heterozygosity (1 adenoma and 1 carcinoma). Overexpression of MUC1 RNA, compared with normal thyroid tissue, was observed in 6 of the 11 papillary carcinomas and in none of the 10 adenomas. Immunostaining of the corresponding formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections detected MUC1 mucin protein at the apical domain of follicular cells. Most of the lining was thin in normal tissue and follicular adenomas, but the protein was more irregularly and less strongly expressed in adenomas. In carcinomas the epithelial mucin produced by the MUC1 gene was present irregularly as a thin and/or thick lining at the apical domain of tumor cells. In addition, 5 of the 6 samples with MUC1 mRNA overexpression showed intracytoplasmic staining. Moreover, intracytoplasmic MUC1 mucin staining was found in 75% of "high-risk" papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) (PTC with extrathyroid extension at initial diagnosis and/or lymph node involvement), and in only 28.5% of "low-risk" PTC (purely intrathyroidal carcinomas).