Previously (Liu et al., Cancer Res., 56: 3371–3379, 1996), we isolated a novel serine protease-like gene—Normal Epithelial Cell Specific-1 (NES1)—that is expressed in normal mammary epithelial cells but is down-regulated in most breast cancer cell lines. Here, we demonstrate that stable expression of NES1 in the NES1-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line suppressed the oncogenicity as revealed by inhibition of the anchorage-independent growth and tumor formation in nude mice. Fluorescence in situ hybridization localized the NES1 gene to chromosome 19q13.3, a region that contains genes for related proteases (including the prostate-specific antigen) and is rearranged in human cancers. Similar to breast cancer cell lines, prostate cancer cell lines also lacked NES1 mRNA and protein expression. Together, these results strongly suggest a tumor-suppressor role for NES1 in breast and prostate cancer.

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Supported by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program.

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