, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 139-149
Date: 09 Aug 2005

Expression of versican in relation to chondrogenesis-related extracellular matrix components in canine mammary tumors

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Versican plays a role in tumor cell proliferation and adhesion and may also regulate cell phenotype. Furthermore, it is one of the pivotal proteoglycans in mesenchymal condensation during prechondrogenesis. We have previously demonstrated accumulation of versican protein in myoepithelial-like spindle cell proliferations and myxoid tissues of complex and mixed mammary tumors of dogs. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the high expression of versican relates to prechondrogenesis in these tissues. Therefore, we aimed to identify cartilage markers, such as collagen type II and aggrecan both at mRNA and protein level in relation to versican. The neopitope of chondoitin-6-sulphate (3B3) known to be generated in developing cartilage has been investigated by immunohistochemisty and a panel of antibodies were used to characterize the phenotype of cells that are involved in cartilage formation. In addition, co-localization of versican with hyaluronan and link protein was studied. RT-PCR revealed upregulation of genes of versican, collagen type II and aggrecan in neoplastic tissues, especially in complex and mixed tumors. Immunohistochemistry showed the expression of cartilage biomarkers not only in the cartilagenous tissues of mixed tumors, but also in myoepitheliomas and in the myoepithelial-like cell proliferations and myxoid areas of complex and mixed tumors. The results show the cartilagenous differentiation of complex tumors and myoepitheliomas and indicate that the myxoid tissues and myoepithelial-like cell proliferations are the precursor tissues of the ectopic cartilage in mixed tumors. Furthermore, we suggest that cartilage formation in canine mammary tumors is a result of (myo)epithelial to mesenchymal transition.