Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Identification of early molecular markers for breast cancer

Céline Kretschmer1*, Anja Sterner-Kock2, Friederike Siedentopf3, Winfried Schoenegg3, Peter M Schlag4 and Wolfgang Kemmner1

Author Affiliations

1 Research Group Surgical Oncology, ECRC, Robert-Rössle-Str. 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany

2 Center for Experimental Medicine, University of Cologne, Medical School, Robert Kochstr. 10, 50931 Cologne, Germany

3 DRK Kliniken Berlin Westend, Brustzentrum, Spandauer Damm 130, 14050 Berlin, Germany

4 Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center, Charite Campus Mitte, Invalidenstrasse 80, 10117 Berlin, Germany

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Molecular Cancer 2011, 10:15  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-15

Published: 11 February 2011



The ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the mammary gland represents an early, pre-invasive stage in the development of invasive breast carcinoma. Since DCIS is a curable disease, it would be highly desirable to identify molecular markers that allow early detection. Mice transgenic for the WAP-SV40 early genome region were used as a model for DCIS development. Gene expression profiling was carried out on DCIS-bearing mice and control animals. Additionally, a set of human DCIS and invasive mammary tumors were analyzed in a similar fashion. Enhanced expression of these marker genes in human and murine samples was validated by quantitative RT-PCR. Besides, marker gene expression was also validated by immunohistochemistry of human samples. Furthermore in silico analyses using an online microarray database were performed.


In DCIS-mice seven genes were identified that were significantly up-regulated in DCIS: DEPDC1, NUSAP1, EXO1, RRM2, FOXM1, MUC1 and SPP1. A similar up-regulation of homologues of the murine genes was observed in human DCIS samples. Enhanced expression of these genes in DCIS and IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma) was validated by quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry.


By comparing murine markers for the ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the mammary gland with genes up-regulated in human DCIS-samples we were able to identify a set of genes which might allow early detection of DCIS and invasive carcinomas in the future. The similarities between gene expression in DCIS and invasive carcinomas in our data suggest that the early detection and treatment of DCIS is of utmost relevance for the survival of patients who are at high risk of developing breast carcinomas.