The gene DMBT1 (deleted in malignant brain tumour-1) has been proposed to play a role in brain and epithelial cancer, but shows unusual features for a classical tumour-suppressor gene. On the one hand, DMBT1 has been linked to mucosal protection, whereas, on the other, it potentially plays a role in epithelial differentiation. Thus its function in a particular tissue is of mechanistic importance for its role in cancer. Because the former function requires secretion to the lumen and the latter function may depend on its presence in the extracellular matrix, we decided to investigate DMBT1 expression, location and its mode of secretion during malignant transformation in colorectal cancer. Using human colorectal PC/AA cell lines and tissue sections from individual patients, we have examined the expression of DMBT1 and its glycosylation in the adenoma–carcinoma sequence leading to the adenocarcinoma phenotype.

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