A novel human tumor growth inhibitor was identified by differential cDNA sequencing. The predicted amino acid sequence of this tumor-suppressing factor has a significant sequence homology to mouse mammary-derived growth inhibitor and thus was named mammary-derived growth inhibitor-related gene (MRG). MRG was found to be expressed in normal and benign human breast tissues but not in breast carcinomas. In situ hybridization analysis demonstrated a stage-specific MRG expression as follows. MRG was barely detectable in breast carcinomas, showed partial and weak expression in benign hyperplasia, but was expressed at a high level in normal breast epithelial cells. To determine if MRG can modulate in vivo growth of human breast cancers, we transfected a full-length MRG cDNA into MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells and studied the orthotopic growth of MRG transfectants versus control transfectants in the mammary fat pad of athymic nude mice. Overexpression of MRG in human breast cancer cells significantly suppressed cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in an orthotopic nude mouse model. These results suggest that MRG has tumor-suppressing activity, and the loss of MRG expression may be involved in the development and progression of breast cancer.
This work was supported in part by Grant CA68064-01 from the NIH, Grant DAMD17-94-J-4229 from the United States Department of the Army, and Helen and Irving Schneider. The first two authors contributed equally to this work.