In the attempt to identify genes associated with metastasis, we have compared gene expressions of two metastatic cell lines, 4T1 and 66cl4, and one noninvasive, nonmetastatic cell line, 67NR, which originate from the same mouse mammary adenocarcinoma. Using the technique of differential display, we identified a novel member of the semaphorin/collapsin family in the two metastatic cell lines. We have named it M-semaH. Northern hybridization to a panel of tumor cell lines revealed transcripts in 12 of 12 metastatic cell lines but in only 2 of 6 nonmetastatic cells and none in immortalized mouse fibroblasts. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the expression of a semaphorin gene has been shown to correlate positively with tumor progression. We have characterized two transcripts present in the tumor cells. One transcript, M-semaH-v, is a putative splice variant, which is less abundant in normal tissue and lacks 478 bp in the 3′ untranslated region. Both transcripts encode the same 775 amino acids with the features of a secreted glycoprotein. Northern analysis suggests that the M-semaH gene is involved in embryonic development and in situ hybridization locates the M-semaH expression to the developing lungs, to developing skeletal elements, and to the ventral horns of the developing neural tube.


This work was supported by Danish Cancer Society Grant 95141019132 and by the Danish Medical Research Council.

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