Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) shows high frequency and mortality in Asian regions, including China. Previous analysis of genomic DNA of ESCC using comparative genomic hybridization indicated that amplification of the chromosome 5p regions is a common event in ESCC cell lines and patient cases of Hong Kong Chinese origin, and the results suggested that the genes located in the chromosome 5p regions may play crucial roles in the molecular pathogenesis of ESCC. Our previous studies on ESCC confirmed the tumorigenic and overexpression properties of a novel gene JS-1 located in chromosome 5p15.2 upstream to δ-catenin. In the present study, another novel gene JK-1 which is located at 5p15.1 downstream to δ-catenin was characterized for its roles in the pathogenesis of ESCC. Thirteen ESCC cell lines and 30 surgical specimens of esophageal tumors were studied for the overexpression of JK-1 using multiplex RT-PCR analysis. The transforming capacity of overexpression of JK-1 was also investigated by transfecting NIH 3T3 and HEK 293 cells with the expression vector cloned with JK-1, followed by the soft agar and foci formation assays. JK-1 was overexpressed in 9/13 (69%) of the ESCC cell lines and 9/30 (30%) of the ESCC patient cases. Both NIH 3T3 and HEK 293 cells acquired the properties of anchorage-dependent and -independent growth when JK-1 was overexpressed. Most significantly, subcutaneous sarcomas were formed in all (3/3) the athymic nude mice after NIH 3T3 cells overexpressing JK-1 were injected subcutaneously. Our results thus indicated that JK-1 is commonly overexpressed in ESCC and has a prominent capacity to transform normal cells. Our overall results thus provide the first evidence that the overexpression of JK-1 and its transforming capacity in normal cells may play a critical role in the molecular pathogenesis of ESCC.
- Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
- Gene overexpression
- Transforming capacity