We assessed the utility of GAGE gene expression as a marker of minimal residual disease (MRD) in neuroblastoma. The GAGE gene family shows a high degree of homology (>90%), clustering into two subgroups. GAGE-1, -2, and -8 form one subset, almost identical among themselves, while GAGE-3 to -7 constitute the other subset. The entire GAGE family (GAGE-1–8) was studied by RT-PCR followed by Southern blotting to increase both the sensitivity and specificity of the technique. Surprisingly, expression of GAGE was detected in 59% of peripheral blood samples from normal controls (20/35) as well as in a similar proportion from neuroblastoma patients with localized disease (stages 1 and 2). The study of GAGE-1, -2, and -8 with specific primers lowered this percentage to 28% (10/35), of which only two (6%) showed a high level of expression (directly visualized after RT-PCR). We conclude that GAGE genes can show a variable, usually low level of illegitimate expression in normal blood cells, and therefore their use as MRD markers should be taken with caution.
*Unidad de Genética, Hospital Universitario La Fe, Valencia, Spain 2:
†Unidad de Oncología Pediátrica, Hospital Universitario La Fe, Valencia, Spain
Publication date: January 1, 2003
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