Glycoprotein Histochemistry and the Histogenesis of Colorectal Cancer

  • Jeremy R. Jass


The nature and synthesis of the carbohydrate and protein components of colorectal mucin are discussed before drawing together particular carbohydrate structures, types of apomucin, and associated cell lineages. In normal goblet cells MUC2 is co-expressed with type 1 carbohydrate chains and sialylated structures including SLea, Slex, and STn. MUC1 is expressed normally by immature crypt base cells and shows co-localization with type 2 carbohydrate chains (Lex and Ly). Colorectal cancers may secrete mucin-like material that is mainly MUC2 and non-mucin-like material that is mainly upregulated MUC1. These secretions are characterized by distinct patterns of morphologic distribution, MUC2 being within goblet cells and extracellular pools, MUC1 being glycocalyceal, luminal, and within intracytoplasmic lumens. It appears that cancer “mucin” is derived from different lineages and needs to be characterized accordingly. The distribution of mucins in normal tissue, precancerous and cancer-associated lesions, and cancer is considered in light of the lineage-based model. The essential molecular processes involved in carcinogenesis must be largely independent of the genetic control of mucin synthesis. By relating the characterization of mucin to cell lineage, it may be possible to derive classifications that are biololgically meaningful and relevant to the pathogenesis and behavior of colorectal cancer.


Sialic Acid Goblet Cell Hyperplastic Polyp Crypt Base Blood Group Substance 


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© Springer Japan 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy R. Jass
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of QueenslandQueenslandAustralia

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