MUC2 mucin is a major carrier of the cancer-associated sialyl-Tn antigen in intestinal metaplasia and gastric carcinomas.

PMID 19815850


Changes in mucin protein expression and in glycosylation are common features in pre-neoplastic lesions and cancer and are therefore used as cancer-associated markers. De novo expression of intestinal mucin MUC2 and cancer-associated sialyl-Tn antigen are frequently observed in intestinal metaplasia (IM) and gastric cancer. However, despite that these antigens often co-localize, MUC2 has not been demonstrated to be a carrier of sialyl-Tn. By using the in situ proximity ligation assay (in situ PLA), we herein could show that MUC2 is a major carrier of the sialyl-Tn antigen in all IM cases and in most gastric carcinoma cases. The requirement by in situ PLA for the presence of both antigens in close proximity increases the selectivity compared to measurement of co-localization, as determined by immunohistochemistry. Identification of the mucin which is the carrier of a carbohydrate structure offers unique advantages for future development of more accurate diagnostic and prognostic markers.