A comparative study on the expression of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in human neuroblastoma cell lines and tissues was undertaken. NCAMs are a family of closely related cell surface glycoproteins involved in cell-cell interactions. Using antibodies that recognise distinct epitopes on NCAM, their presence was shown in neuroblastoma, but these studies do not yield any information on the specific NCAM isoforms associated with the tumour. Western and Northern blot analyses were therefore carried out to characterise the NCAM isoforms in this neuroectodermal tumour. Western blot studies using the monoclonal antibody ERIC-1 showed that all human neuroblastoma cell lines tested expressed the 140 and 120 kilodalton isoforms of NCAM in their desialo state. Some of the cell lines also expressed NCAM-180. The data are corroborated by Northern blotting where a transcript of 7.4 kilobase pairs was identified only in lines expressing NCAM-180; the 6.7 and 5.4 kilobase pair transcripts coding for 140 and 120 kilodalton isoforms, respectively, were present in all the cell lines tested. The NCAM isoforms identified in neuroblastoma were also different from those found in adult and fetal brain tissue, suggesting that aberrations are expressed in the molecule during tumorigenesis.
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