Distinct and complementary information provided by use of tissue and DNA microarrays in the study of breast tumor markers

Am J Pathol. 2002 Oct;161(4):1223-33. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64399-4.


Emerging high-throughput screening technologies are rapidly providing opportunities to identify new diagnostic and prognostic markers and new therapeutic targets in human cancer. Currently, cDNA arrays allow the quantitative measurement of thousands of mRNA expression levels simultaneously. Validation of this tool in hospital settings can be done on large series of archival paraffin-embedded tumor samples using the new technique of tissue microarray. On a series of 55 clinically and pathologically homogeneous breast tumors, we compared for 15 molecules with a proven or suspected role in breast cancer, the mRNA expression levels measured by cDNA array analysis with protein expression levels obtained using tumor tissue microarrays. The validity of cDNA array and tissue microarray data were first verified by comparison with quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction measurements and immunohistochemistry on full tissue sections, respectively. We found a good correlation between cDNA and tissue array analyses in one-third of the 15 molecules, and no correlation in the remaining two-thirds. Furthermore, protein but not RNA levels may have prognostic value; this was the case for MUC1 protein, which was studied further using a tissue microarray containing approximately 600 tumor samples. For THBS1 the opposite was observed because only RNA levels had prognostic value. Thus, differences extended to clinical prognostic information obtained by the two methods underlining their complementarity and the need for a global molecular analysis of tumors at both the RNA and protein levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger