A synthetic DNA template has been constructed that is suitable for the quantitation of mRNAs encoding gastrin, transforming growth factor α (TGFα), cholecystokinin, and the 78-kDa gastrin-binding protein. The template was used to measure levels of gastrin and TGFα mRNA in 7 colonic and 2 gastric carcinoma cell lines by the polymerase chain reaction. All lines produced detectable gastrin and TGFα mRNA with amounts varying between 2.1 and 540 molecules of gastrin mRNA/103 cells and 1.1 and 28 molecules of TGFα mRNA/103 cells. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that both gastrin and TGFα act as autocrine growth factors in colon carcinoma cell lines.

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