In order to identify neuroendocrine tumour-specific protein expression, we generated monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with a tumour-related reaction pattern using a human insulinoma as immunogen. One of the generated mAbs (mAb 1D4) exhibited striking immunoreactivity against various neuroendocrine tumours without staining pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Furthermore, mAb 1D4 immunostained a characteristic subtype of hypothalamic neurones. Using two-dimensional (2-D) gel electrophoresis, mAb 1D4 immunoblotting and mass spectrometry, heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) isoforms were identified as the mAb 1D4-specific antigen. In hypothalamic tissue, the presence of two different Hsp70 isoforms (Hsp70-8 and Hsp70-1) was revealed by 2-D gel immunoblots and consecutive mass spectrometric peptide analysis. In contrast, insulinoma and other neuroendocrine tumours displayed solely Hsp70-8 expression. Moreover, the tumour-specific presence of an additional mAb 1D4 immunoreactive protein of 40 kDa was observed in eight out of eight tested neuroendocrine tumours. For this variant, exclusively, peptides derived from the C terminus excluding the 299 amino-terminal residues were detected. In cultured tumour-derived fibroblasts, expression of the truncated Hsp70-8 subtype was not present. In conclusion, we have demonstrated a neuroendocrine tumour-specific expression pattern of Hsp70 isoforms and identified an as yet unknown N-terminally truncated Hsp70-8 variant.
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