MicroRNA Expression Profiling for Diagnosis of Human Cancers

Although their function is not well understood, miRNAs control gene activity and play a major role in the development of human cancers. Bead-based flow cytometric expression profiling of miRNAs in samples from multiple human cancers has shown distinctive miRNA fingerprints. Generally there was downregulation of miRNAs in tumors compared with normal tissues. The miRNA profiles reflect the developmental lineage and differentiation state of the tumors and enabled successful classification of poorly differentiated tumors whereas mRNA profiles were highly inaccurate when applied to the same samples. These findings highlight the potential of miRNA profiling in cancer diagnosis and to select the most appropriate treatment.

MUC4 as a Diagnostic Biomarker in Cancer

Mucins are high molecular mass glycoproteins whose role in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy is being increasingly recognized owing to their altered expression in a variety of carcinomas. MUC4, a membrane-bound mucin encoded by a gene located on chromosome locus 3q29, is aberrantly expressed in several cancers including those of the bile duct, breast, colon, esophagus, ovary, lung, prostate, stomach and pancreas.

MUC4 expression pattern have potential use in the diagnosis and prognosis of various cancers (Chakraborty et al. 2008). MUC4 expression is a specific biomarker of epithelial tumors and its expression correlates positively with the degree of differentiation in several cancers. MUC4 has emerged as a specific biomarker of dysplasia, being expressed in the earliest dysplastic lesions preceding several malignancies, including pancreatic cancer. The presence of MUC4-specific antibodies in the serum and of the transcript in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of cancer patients may lead to a biomarker-based test for bedside application in high-risk individuals and those with established cancer.

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