Background: The chromosomal location of CUL-5 (11q 22-23) is associated with LOH in breast cancer, suggesting that CUL-5 may be a tumor suppressor. The purpose of this research was to determine if there is differential expression of CUL-5 in breast epithelial cells versus breast cancer cell lines, and normal human tissues versus human tumors. The expression of CUL-5 in breast epithelial cells (HMEC, MCF-10A), and breast cancer cells (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231) was examined using RT-PCR, Northern blot analysis, and Western blot analysis. The expression of mRNA for other CUL family members (CUL-1, -2, -3, -4A, and -4B) in these cells was evaluated by RT-PCR. A normal human tissue expression array and a cancer profiling array were used to examine CUL-5 expression in normal human tissues and matched normal tissues versus tumor tissues, respectively.
Results: CUL-5 is expressed at the mRNA and protein levels by breast epithelial cells (HMEC, MCF-10A) and breast cancer cells (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231). These cells also express mRNA for other CUL family members. The normal human tissue expression array revealed that CUL-5 is widely expressed. The cancer profiling array revealed that 82% (41/50) of the breast cancers demonstrated a decrease in CUL-5 expression versus the matched normal tissue. For the 50 cases of matched breast tissue there was a statistically significant approximately 2.2 fold decreased expression of CUL-5 in tumor tissue versus normal tissue (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The data demonstrate no apparent decrease in CUL-5 expression in the breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231) versus the breast epithelial cells (HMEC, MCF-10A). The decrease in CUL-5 expression in breast tumor tissue versus matched normal tissue supports the hypothesis that decreased expression of CUL-5 may play a role in breast tumorigenesis.