Membrane-bound (MUC1) and secretory (MUC2, MUC3, and MUC4) mucin gene expression in human lung cancer

Tumour Biol. 1996;17(3):176-92. doi: 10.1159/000217980.


Abnormalities of mucin-type glycoproteins have been described in lung cancers, but their molecular basis is unknown. In this study, mucin-core-peptide-specific antibodies and cDNA probes were used to determine the relative expression of mucin genes corresponding to one membrane-bound mucin (MUC1), two intestinal mucins (MUC2 and MUC3), and one tracheobronchial mucin (MUC4) in normal (nonneoplastic) lung, and in lung neoplasms. Normal lung tissues exhibited a distinct pattern of mucin gene expression, with high levels of MUC1 and MUC4 mRNA and low to absent levels of MUC2 and MUC3 mucin immunoreactivity and mRNA. In contrast, lung adenocarcinomas, especially well-differentiated cancers, exhibited increased MUC1, MUC3, and MUC4 mRNA levels. Lung squamous-cell, adenosquamous, and large-cell carcinomas were characterized by increased levels of MUC4 mucin only. We conclude that the expression of one membrane-bound and several secretory-type mucins is independently regulated and markedly altered in lung neoplasms. The frequent occurrence of increased MUC4 transcripts in a variety of non-small-cell lung cancers indicates the potential importance of this type of mucin in lung cancer biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Epitopes / chemistry
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mucins / genetics*
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • Epitopes
  • Mucins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm