Background: Periostin is a secreted adhesion protein, normally expressed in mesenchime-derived cells. Aberrant expression of the periostin gene in epithelial tumours seems to play a role in angiogenesis and metastases.
Aims: To investigate periostin expression in a consecutive series of breast carcinomas and correlate it with established biological and prognostic factors.
Methods: A consecutive series of 206 breast carcinomas was investigated by immunohistochemistry with a specific antiperiostin antibody. Immunohistochemical expression of oestrogen and progesterone receptors, Ki-67 (MIB-1), HER-2/neu, VEGF-A, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 was analysed. Periostin expression was also investigated in MCF-7 and MDA-468 cell lines by immunohistochemistry, western blot and quantitative RT-PCR. Localisation of periostin was investigated in MCF-7 cells by the green fluorescent protein (GFP) approach.
Results: Periostin was highly expressed in carcinoma cells, but not in normal breast tissues. The pattern of expression was mainly cytoplasmic. However, in 12% of cases a nuclear reactivity was observed. Nuclear periostin significantly correlated with tumour size, and with expression of oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, VEGF-A, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2. A nuclear localisation of periostin was also observed in MCF-7 and MDA-468 cell lines. In MCF-7 cells the nuclear localisation of periostin was also shown by transfection of a vector expressing a GFP-periostin chimeric protein.
Conclusions: Results indicate that the aberrant gene expression of periostin in breast cancer cells is associated with an abnormal nuclear localisation of the protein. The nuclear localisation of periostin in breast cancer may induce significant biological effects.
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Competing interests: None.
Funding: This work is funded by grants from MIUR (PRIN no. 2005060778-002) and Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia to GD. CP is supported by the Fondazione Italiana Ricerca sul Cancro (FIRC) fellowship.
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