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Expression of MUC2 epithelial mucin in breast carcinoma.
  1. M D Walsh,
  2. M A McGuckin,
  3. P L Devine,
  4. B G Hohn,
  5. R G Wright
  1. Department of Surgery, University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Australia.


    AIMS--To examine the expression of the MUC2 epithelial mucin in breast carcinoma; to relate this to patient survival. METHODS--Sections from 210 breast carcinomas were stained with the anti-MUC2 core protein monoclonal antibody, 4F1, using an immunoperoxidase technique. The proportion of tumour cells positively stained and the localisation and intensity of any staining were recorded. Expression of MUC2 was compared with histological type and grade, tumour size, presence of nodal metastases, presence of oestrogen receptors, and menopausal status. The prognostic value of MUC2 expression was examined using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. RESULTS--MUC2 mucin was detected in 19% of cases of invasive carcinoma, in 11% of cases of carcinoma in situ, where present, but very rarely in adjacent normal breast epithelium. Presence of MUC2 was significantly associated with a shorter disease free interval (p < 0.05), although the observed difference in duration of overall survival was not significant. CONCLUSIONS--The MUC2 detected in breast carcinoma may be underglycosylated or staining may represent detection of the protein core before the completion of glycosylation. The virtual absence of 4F1 reactivity in normal breast epithelium suggests that, unlike the MUC1 mucin, the MUC2 mucin is not highly expressed by these cells. The mechanism by which expression of MUC2 affects the biology of breast tumours is unclear, although expression may be a reflection of general derepression of genes during tumour progression.

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