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Abstract

The RECK (reversion-inducing-cysteine-rich protein with Kazal motifs) gene was initially isolated as a transformation suppressor gene. It encodes a membrane-anchored glycoprotein with multiple serine protease inhibitor-like domains. The RECK gene is expressed widely in normal organs but is undetectable in many tumor-derived cell lines. When artificially expressed in such cell lines, RECK suppresses their invasive and metastatic activities. Clinical implications of these findings, however, remained undefined because of the lack of studies using fresh human tumor samples. In the present study, we have addressed this issue by analyzing the levels of RECK gene expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). RECK mRNA was detectable by RNA blot hybridization in all the tumorous and contiguous nontumorous tissues obtained from 64 patients with HCC. In 26 cases, the RECK expression in tumorous tissues was higher than that in nontumorous tissues. The expression of RECK protein in these tissues could also be demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. Patients with high RECK mRNA expression in tumorous tissues tended to show better survival (P = .02), and such tumors had a tendency to be less invasive. Univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that the RECK mRNA expression is a novel and independent variable affecting overall survival (P = .01). These findings support the hypothesis that RECK has negative effects on the invasiveness of HCC cells and suggest the feasibility of RECK mRNA as a promising prognostic molecular marker for HCC.