The Role of the Myelin and Lymphocyte Protein (MAL) in Breast and Ovarian Cancer

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MAL (myelin and lymphocyte protein), has been implicated in several malignancies including esophageal, gastric, and cervical cancers. We have demonstrated that the MAL protein is expressed in the normal breast epithelium, and aberrantly expressed in breast cancer. Bisulfite sequencing of the MAL promoter CpG island revealed hypermethylation in breast cancer cell lines and 69% of primary tumors analyzed compared with normal breast epithelial cells. Differential methylation between normal and cancer DNA was confined to the proximal promoter region. In a subset of breast cancer cell lines, promoter methylation correlated with transcriptional silencing that was reversible with the methylation inhibitor decitabine. Furthermore, exogenous expression of MAL in breast cancer cell lines resulted in decreased cell proliferation, motility, reduced cell invasion through Matrigel and suppressed anchorage-independent growth in soft agar. In a cohort of 122 primary breast tumors, immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the MAL protein was an independent predictor of benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Moreover, overexpression of MAL in triple-negative MDA-MB-468 and BT20 breast cancer cell lines was sufficient to confer sensitivity to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibition and was associated with reduced phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling. Immunohistochemistry studies conducted on 144 late-stage serous ovarian cancers showed that MAL expression was a significant predictor of survival. Knockdown of MAL expression in the SKOV8 ovarian cancer cell line reduced cell proliferation and resulted in increased sensitivity to the chemotherapeutic drug carboplatin. Thus, we have identified the MAL gene as a novel epigenetically regulated gene in breast cancer with implications for response to chemotherapy in both breast and ovarian cancer. Furthermore, we have shown that the MAL protein has predictive and prognostic value in breast and ovarian cancers, respectively.






Horne, Hisani (2010). The Role of the Myelin and Lymphocyte Protein (MAL) in Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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