Histochemistry and Cell Biology vol:108 issue:2 pages:155-165
Neuroendocrine-specific protein (NSP)-reticulons have recently been discovered and were shown to exhibit a restricted, neuroendocrine/neural-specific expression pattern. These protein aggregates are anchored to the membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum and occur in small cell lung cancer (SCLC), but not in typical non-SCLC. In the current study we have examined the occurrence of NSP-reticulons in non-SCLC cell lines known to express neuroendocrine features (non-SCLC-NE). NSP-reticulon expression was observed in all three non-SCLC-NE cell lines studied, albeit with variable intensity and in varying numbers of cells. Western blot analysis confirmed the presence of NSP-reticulon expression in these non-SCLC-NE cell lines, and showed that they were predominantly of the NSP-A type. When compared to conventional neuroendocrine markers, NSP-reticulons revealed a distinct staining profile, showing only partial overlap with the other markers. The non-SCLC-NE cell lines combined these neuroendocrine characteristics with some features of non-SCLC. We conclude that NSP-reticulon expression is restricted to lung carcinoma cells with a neuroendocrine phenotype and predict that these constituents may become clinically relevant markers for the detection of neuroendocrine differentiation in solid tumours.