Overexpression or ectopic expression of MUC2 is the common property of mucinous carcinomas of the colon, pancreas, breast, and ovary

J Pathol. 1997 Aug;182(4):385-91. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199708)182:4<385::AID-PATH861>3.0.CO;2-Q.


Mucinous carcinomas of the colorectum have been reported to overexpress the intestinal mucin MUC2. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this alteration is shared by mucinous tumours of the ovary, breast, and pancreas. A total of 40 breast carcinomas (22 of mucinous and 18 of ductal invasive type), 39 ovarian adenocarcinomas (16 mucinous, 23 serous), 47 colorectal carcinomas (25 mucinous and 22 non-mucinous), and 41 pancreatic adenocarcinomas (14 mucinous, 27 non-mucinous) were investigated by immunohistochemistry with the anti-MUC2 monoclonal antibody 4F1 and the expression pattern was ranked. MUC2 mucin is expressed in the normal colonic epithelium; in the normal epithelium of the breast, ovary, and pancreas, it was not detectable by immunohistochemistry or by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In agreement with previous reports, the colonic mucinous carcinomas differed significantly from the non-mucinous carcinomas by strong MUC2 expression. In all mucinous carcinomas of the ovary, breast, and pancreas, de novo expression of the MUC2 gene was observed, which differentiated mucinous and non-mucinous carcinomas of these tissues (P < 0.001). The overexpression or ectopic expression of the MUC2 gene exhibited by mucinous carcinomas of four organs indicates a common genetic lesion associated with the mucinous tumour phenotype.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mucin-2
  • Mucins / analysis
  • Mucins / genetics
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MUC2 protein, human
  • Mucin-2
  • Mucins
  • RNA, Messenger