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Glycosyltransferases as marker genes for the quantitative polymerase chain reaction-based detection of circulating tumour cells from blood samples of patients with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant therapy

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Altered glycosylation is a predominant feature of tumour cells; it serves for cell adhesion and detachment, respectively, and facilitates the immune escape of these cells. Therefore changes in the expression of glycosyltransferase genes could help to identify circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood samples of cancer patients using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach. Blood samples of healthy donors were inoculated with certain numbers of established breast cancer cell line cells, thus creating a model system. These samples were analysed by quantitative PCR for the expression of six different glycosyltransferase genes. The three genes with the best results in the model system were consecutively applied to samples from adjuvant breast cancer patients and of healthy donors. FUT3 and GALNT6 showed the highest increase in relative expression, while GALNT6 and ST3GAL3 were the first to reach statistically significant different ΔCTvalues comparing the sample with and without addition of tumour cells. These three genes were applied to patient samples, but did not show any significant results that may suggest the presence of CTCs in the blood. Although the relative expression of some of the glycosyltransferase genes exhibited reasonable results in the model system, their application to breast cancer patient samples will have to be further improved, e.g. by coanalysis of patient blood samples by gold-standard methods.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, LudwigMaximiliansUniversity of Munich, Munich D80337, Germany 2: Translational Molecular Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77054, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2015

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  • Molecular Medicine Reports is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal available in print and online, that includes studies devoted to molecular medicine, underscoring aspects including pharmacology, pathology, genetics, neurosciences, infectious diseases, molecular cardiology and molecular surgery. In vitro and in vivo studies of experimental model systems pertaining to the mechanisms of a variety of diseases offer researchers the necessary tools and knowledge with which to aid the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.
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