Coexpression of Stromelysin-3 and Insulin-Like Growth Factor II in Tumors of Ectodermal, Mesodermal, and Endodermal Origin: Indicator of a Fetal Cell Phenotype

Christian F. Singer, Audrey Rasmussen, Marc E Lippman, Kevin J. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Stromelysin-3 (ST-3) is thought to play an important role in invasion and tumor progression. We have analyzed ST-3 expression in fibroblasts with defined topographical relations to breast cancers. We demonstrate that these fibroblasts exhibit the same distinctive pattern of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression that we have previously shown for insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II). Tumor-derived fibroblasts and skin fibroblasts produce abundant ST-3 mRNA. Fibroblasts from normal breast stroma distant from the malignant tumor in the same patient express considerably less ST-3 mRNA. When we analyzed ST-3 and IGF-II gene expression in sarcomas, we found a similar pattern of coexpression. Immunohistochemical analysis of IGF-II and ST-3 protein expression in sarcomas and breast tumors confirmed the mRNA data. ST-3 mRNA expression was also seen in most colon cancer cell lines, again matching reports of IGF-II gene expression. As the two proteins are known to play an important role during fetal growth and development, their coexpression in fibroblasts from malignant tumors of ectodermal (breast cancer) and mesodermal (sarcoma) origin and in epithelial cells of endodermal origin (colon cancer) implies a more primitive cellular phenotype. The regained ability to express such developmentally regulated proteins might, therefore, be a more general marker indicating a fetal-type phenotype of cells in a malignant tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1922
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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