Open Access Open Badges Research article

Expression analysis of mammaglobin A (SCGB2A2) and lipophilin B (SCGB1D2) in more than 300 human tumors and matching normal tissues reveals their co-expression in gynecologic malignancies

Menelaos Zafrakas1, Beate Petschke2, Andreas Donner1, Florian Fritzsche3, Glen Kristiansen3, Ruth Knüchel1 and Edgar Dahl1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Charité University Hospital, Campus Virchow, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Schumannstr. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:88  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-88

Published: 9 April 2006



Mammaglobin A (SCGB2A2) and lipophilin B (SCGB1D2), two members of the secretoglobin superfamily, are known to be co-expressed in breast cancer, where their proteins form a covalent complex. Based on the relatively high tissue-specific expression pattern, it has been proposed that the mammaglobin A protein and/or its complex with lipophilin B could be used in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. In view of these clinical implications, the aim of the present study was to analyze the expression of both genes in a large panel of human solid tumors (n = 309), corresponding normal tissues (n = 309) and cell lines (n = 11), in order to evaluate their tissue specific expression and co-expression pattern.


For gene and protein expression analyses, northern blot, dot blot hybridization of matched tumor/normal arrays (cancer profiling arrays), quantitative RT-PCR, non-radioisotopic RNA in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry were used.


Cancer profiling array data demonstrated that mammaglobin A and lipophilin B expression is not restricted to normal and malignant breast tissue. Both genes were abundantly expressed in tumors of the female genital tract, i.e. endometrial, ovarian and cervical cancer. In these four tissues the expression pattern of mammaglobin A and lipophilin B was highly concordant, with both genes being down-, up- or not regulated in the same tissue samples. In breast tissue, mammaglobin A expression was down-regulated in 49% and up-regulated in 12% of breast tumor specimens compared with matching normal tissues, while lipophilin B was down-regulated in 59% and up-regulated in 3% of cases. In endometrial tissue, expression of mammaglobin A and lipophilin B was clearly up-regulated in tumors (47% and 49% respectively). Both genes exhibited down-regulation in 22% of endometrial tumors. The only exceptions to this concordance of mammaglobin A/lipophilin B expression were normal and malignant tissues of prostate and kidney, where only lipophilin B was abundantly expressed and mammaglobin A was entirely absent. RNA in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry confirmed expression of mammaglobin A on a cellular level in endometrial and cervical cancer and their corresponding normal tissues.


Altogether, these data suggest that expression of mammaglobin A and lipophilin B might be controlled in different tissues by the same regulatory transcriptional mechanisms. Diagnostic assays based on mammaglobin A expression and/or the mammaglobin A/lipophilin B complex appear to be less specific for breast cancer, but with a broader spectrum of potential applications, which includes gynecologic malignancies.