Recent articles have reported that loss of imprinting (LOI) of the endogenous gene H19 was frequently found in lung cancer and choriocarcinoma, common adulthood cancers. Consequently, we examined the status of genomic imprinting of H19 in 29 esophageal and 48 colorectal cancer specimens, and studied its relation to the expression of H19. Of 12 esophageal cancer specimens heterozygous for the RsaI polymorphism, 6 (50%) exhibited LOI of H19, but none of the 18 colorectal cancer specimens heterozygous for the RsaI polymorphism exhibited LOI of H19. The present study suggests that LOI of H19 may play an important role in the pathogenesis of esophageal cancer. Moreover, H19 expression was frequently abundant in both cancers, and all six esophageal cancers carried LOI with overexpressed H19. Therefore, this overexpression of H19 seems to be an important phenomenon for the development of esophageal and colorectal cancer cells.

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This work was supported in part by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Japan.

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