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MUC-4 (also called sialomucin complex) is a membrane-bound mucin that has been suggested to be implicated in malignant progression in humans and rats. The MUC-4 gene is expressed in various normal epithelial tissues of endodermic origin and carcinomas. In the respiratory tract, over-expression of the membrane mucin has been observed during malignant progression of mammary tumors in both humans and rats, suggesting that deregulation of MUC-4 might facilitate development of these malignancies. Studies have indicated that over-expression of MUC-4 results in suppression of both cell adhesion and immune killing of tumor cells. MUC-4 transcripts have been detected in normal respiratory epithelium and lung. Other studies have shown that MUC-4 is a very specific (100%) and sensitive (91.4%) marker of lung adenocarcinomas and is negative for mesotheliomas. MUC-4 expression in invasive ductal carcinoma of the pancreas is an independent factor for poor prognosis and predicts outcome in the patient.
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