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Novel genes, compositions, kits, and methods for identification, assessment prevention, and therapy of breast cancer

Abstrict

The invention relates to compositions, kits, and methods for detecting, characterizing, preventing, and treating human breast cancers. A variety of marker genes are provided, wherein changes in the levels of expression of one or more of the marker genes is correlated with the presence of breast cancer.

Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A method of assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer, the method comprising comparing: a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patient sample, and b) the normal level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in a sample from a control subject not afflicted with breast cancer, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1 and a significant difference between the level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in the patient sample and the normal level of one or several of said marker genes is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein several of said breast cancer marker gene is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein at least of one of said marker genes encodes a secreted protein.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the sample comprises cells obtained from the patient.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the sample is a breast tissue sample.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the cells are in a fluid selected from the group consisting of blood fluids, breast fluid, lymph fluid and urine.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the level of expression of said marker genes in the samples is assessed by detecting the presence in the samples of a protein encoded by each of said marker gene or a polypeptide or protein fragment comprising said protein.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the presence of said protein, polypeptide or protein fragment is detected using a reagent which specifically binds with said protein, polypeptide or protein fragment.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the reagent is selected from the group consisting of an antibody, an antibody derivative, and an antibody fragment.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the level of expression of said marker genes in the sample is assessed by detecting the presence in the sample of a transcribed polynucleotide encoded by each of said marker genes or a portion of said transcribed polynucleotide.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein the transcribed polynucleotide is an mRNA or hnRNA.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein the transcribed polynucleotide is a cDNA.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein the step of detecting further comprises amplifying the transcribed polynucleotide.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein the level of expression of said marker genes in the samples is assessed by detecting the presence in the samples of a transcribed polynucleotide which anneals with each of said marker genes or anneals with a portion of said transcribed polynucleotide, under stringent hybridization conditions.

15. The method of claim 1, wherein said significant difference comprises an at least two fold difference between the level of expression of one of said marker genes in the patient sample and the normal level of expression of the same marker gene in the sample from the control subject.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said significant difference comprises an at least five fold difference between the level of expression of one of said marker genes in the patient sample and the normal level of expression of the same marker gene in the sample from the control subject

17. The method of claim 1, comprising comparing: a) the level of expression in the patient sample of each of a plurality of marker genes independently selected from the genes listed in Table 1, and b) the normal level of expression of each of the plurality of marker genes in the sample obtained from the control subject, wherein the level of expression of at least one of the marker genes is significantly altered, relative to the corresponding normal level of expression of the marker genes, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the level of expression of each of the marker genes is significantly altered, relative to the corresponding normal levels of expression of the marker genes, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the plurality comprises at least three of the marker genes.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the plurality comprises at least five of the marker genes.

21. A method for monitoring the progression of breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising: a) detecting in a patient sample at a first point in time the expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes; b) repeating step a) at a subsequent point in time; and c) comparing the level of expression of said marker genes detected in steps a) and b), and therefrom monitoring the progression of breast cancer; wherein at least of said marker gene is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein at least one of said marker gene encodes a secreted protein.

23. The method of claim 20, wherein the sample comprises cells obtained from the patient.

24. The method of claim 20, wherein the patient sample is a breast tissue sample.

25. The method of claim 20, wherein between the first point in time and the subsequent point in time, the patient has undergone surgery to remove breast tissue.

26. A method of assessing the efficacy of a test compound for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising comparing: a) expression of one or several breast cancer marker gene in a first sample obtained from the patient and exposed to the test compound; and b) expression of one or several of said marker genes in a second sample obtained from the patient, wherein the second sample is not exposed to the test compound, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1, and a significantly lower level of expression of one of said marker genes in the first sample, relative to the second sample, is an indication that the test compound is efficacious for inhibiting breast cancer in the patient.

27. The method of claim 26, wherein the first and second samples are portions of a single sample obtained from the patient.

28. The method of claim 26, wherein the first and second samples are portions of pooled samples obtained from the patient.

29. A method of assessing the efficacy of a therapy for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising comparing: a) expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in the first sample obtained from the patient prior to providing at least a portion of the therapy to the patient, and b) expression of one or several of said marker genes in a second sample obtained from the patient following provision of the portion of the therapy, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1, and a significantly lower level of expression of one of said marker genes in the second sample, relative to the first sample, is an indication that the therapy is efficacious for inhibiting breast cancer in the patient.

30. A method of selecting a composition for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising: a) obtaining a sample comprising cancer cells from the patient; b) separately exposing aliquots of the sample in the presence of a plurality of test compositions; c) comparing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in each of the aliquots; and d) selecting one of the test compositions which alters the level of expression of one or several of the marker genes in the aliquot containing that test composition, relative to other test compositions; wherein at least one of said marker gene is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

31. A method of inhibiting breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising: a) obtaining a sample comprising cancer cells from the patient; b) separately maintaining aliquots of the sample in the presence of a plurality of test compositions; c) comparing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in each of the aliquots; and d) administering to the patient at least one of the test compositions which alters the level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in the aliquot containing that test composition, relative to other test compositions, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

32. A kit for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer, the kit comprising reagents for assessing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

33. A kit for assessing the presence of breast cancer cells, the kit comprising a nucleic acid probe which specifically binds with a transcribed polynucleotide encoded by a marker gene selected from the group consisting of the marker genes listed in Table 1.

34. A kit for assessing the suitability of each of a plurality of compounds for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient, the kit comprising: a) the plurality of compounds; and b) a reagent for assessing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1.

35. A method of making an isolated hybridoma which produces an antibody useful for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer, the method comprising: immunizing a mammal using a composition comprising a protein encoded by a gene listed in Table 1 or a polypeptide or protein fragment of said protein; isolating splenocytes from the immunized mammal; fusing the isolated splenocytes with an immortalized cell line to form hybridomas; and screening individual hybridomas for production of an antibody which specifically binds with said protein, polypeptide or protein fragment to isolate the hybridoma.

36. An antibody produced by a hybridoma made by the method of claim 35.

37. A kit for assessing the presence of human breast cancer cells, the kit comprising an antibody, wherein the antibody specifically binds with a protein encoded by a gene listed in Table 1 or a polypeptide or protein fragment of said protein.

38. A method of assessing the breast cell carcinogenic potential of a test compound, the method comprising: a) maintaining separate aliquots of breast cells in the presence and absence of the test compound; and b) comparing expression of one or several breast cancer marker gene in each of the aliquots, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1, and a significantly altered level of expression of one or several marker genes in the aliquot maintained in the presence of the test compound, relative to the aliquot maintained in the absence of the test compound, is an indication that the test compound possesses human breast cell carcinogenic potential.

39. A kit for assessing the breast cell carcinogenic potential of a test compound, the kit comprising breast cells and a reagent for assessing expression of a gene listed in Table 1.

40. A method for determining whether breast cancer has metastasized in a patient, the method comprising comparing: a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patient sample, and b) the normal level or non-metastatic level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in a control sample wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the group consisting of the genes listed in Table 1, and a significant difference between the level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in the patient sample and the normal level or non-metastatic level is an indication that the breast cancer has mestastasized.

41. The method of claim 40, wherein several of said marker genes are selected from the genes listed in Table 1.

42. The method of claim 40, wherein at least one of said marker genes encodes a secreted protein.

43. The method of claim 40, wherein the sample comprises cells obtained from the patient.

44. The method of claim 40, wherein the patient sample is a breast tissue sample.

45. A method for assessing the aggressiveness or indolence of breast cancer comprising comparing: a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker gene in a sample, and b) the normal level of expression of one or several of said marker genes in a control sample, wherein at least one of said marker genes is selected from the marker genes of Table 1, and a significant difference between the level of expression of one or several of said marker gene in the sample and the normal level is an indication that the cancer is aggressive or indolent.

46. The method of claim 45, wherein several of said marker genes are selected from the group consisting of the marker genes listed in Table 1.

47. The method of claim 45, wherein at least one of said marker genes encodes a secreted protein.

48. The method of claim 45, wherein the sample comprises cells obtained from the patient.

49. The method of claim 45, wherein the patient sample is a breast tissue sample.

50. An isolated nucleic acid molecule comprising a nucleotide sequence of Table 1.

51. A vector which contains the nucleic acid molecule of claim 50.

52. A host cell which contains the nucleic acid molecule of claim 50.

53. An isolated polypeptide which is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule comprising a nucleotide sequence of Table 1.

54. An antibody which selectively binds to a polypeptide of claim 53.

55. A method for producing a polypeptide comprising culturing the host cell of claim 52 under conditions in which the nucleic acid molecule is expressed.

56. A method for detecting the presence of a polypeptide of claim 52 in a sample comprising: a) contacting the sample with a compound which selectively binds to the polypeptide; and b) determining whether the compound binds to the polypeptide in the sample to thereby detect the presence of a polypeptide of claim 53 in the sample.

57. A kit comprising a compound which selectively binds to the polypeptide of claim 53.

58. A method for detecting the presence of a nucleic acid molecule of claim 50 in a sample comprising: a) contacting the sample with a nucleic acid probe or primer which selectively hybridizes to the nucleic acid molecule; and b) determining whether the nucleic acid probe or primer binds to a nucleic acid molecule in the sample to thereby detect the presence of a nucleic acid molecule of claim 45 in the sample.

59. The method of claim 48, wherein the sample comprises mRNA molecules and is contacted with a nucleic acid probe.

60. The method of claim 48, wherein the sample is isolated from ovarian tissue.

61. The method of claim 48, wherein the sample is a tumor sample.

62. A kit comprising a compound which selectively hybridizes to a nucleic acid molecule of claim 50.

Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application serial No. 60/285,163, filed on Apr. 20, 2001, which is expressly incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The field of the invention is breast cancer, including diagnosis, characterization, management, and therapy of breast cancer.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The increased number of cancer cases reported in the United States, and, indeed, around the world, is a major concern. Currently there are only a handful of treatments available for specific types of cancer, and these provide no absolute guarantee of success. In order to be most effective, these treatments require not only an early detection of the malignancy, but a reliable assessment of the severity of the malignancy.

[0004] The incidence of breast cancer, a leading cause of death in women, has been gradually increasing in the United States over the last thirty years. In 1997, it was estimated that 181,000 new cases were reported in the U.S., and that 44,000 people would die of breast cancer (Parker et al, 1997, CA Cancer J. Clin. 47:5-27; Chu et al, 1996, J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 88:1571-1579). While the pathogenesis of breast cancer is unclear, transformation of normal breast epithelium to a malignant phenotype may be the result of genetic factors, especially in women under 30 (Miki et al., 1994, Science, 266:66-71). The discovery and characterization of BRCA1 and BRCA2 has recently expanded our knowledge of genetic factors which can contribute to familial breast cancer. Germ-line mutations within these two loci are associated with a 50 to 85% lifetime risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer (Casey, 1997, Curr. Opin. Oncol. 9:88-93; Marcus et al, 1996, Cancer 77:697-709). However, it is likely that other, non-genetic factors also have a significant effect on the etiology of the disease. Regardless of its origin, breast cancer morbidity and mortality increases significantly if it is not detected early in its progression. Thus, considerable effort has focused on the early detection of cellular transformation and tumor formation in breast tissue.

[0005] Currently, the principal manner of identifying breast cancer is through detection of the presence of dense tumorous tissue. This may be accomplished to varying degrees of effectiveness by direct examination of the outside of the breast, or through mammography or other X-ray imaging methods (Jatoi, 1999, Am. J. Surg. 177:518-524). The latter approach is not without considerable cost, however. Every time a mammogram is taken, the patient incurs a small risk of having a breast tumor induced by the ionizing properties of the radiation used during the test. In addition, the process is expensive and the subjective interpretations of a technician can lead to imprecision, e.g., one study showed major clinical disagreements for about one-third of a set of mammograms that were interpreted individually by a surveyed group of radiologists. Moreover, many women find that undergoing a mammogram is a painful experience. Accordingly, the National Cancer Institute has not recommended mammograms for women under fifty years of age, since this group is not as likely to develop breast cancers as are older women. It is compelling to note, however, that while only about 22% of breast cancers occur in women under fifty, data suggests that breast cancer is more aggressive in pre-menopausal women.

[0006] It would therefore be beneficial to provide specific methods and reagents for the diagnosis, staging, prognosis, monitoring, and treatment of diseases associated with breast cancer, or to indicate a predisposition to such for preventative measures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The invention relates to novel genes associated with breast cancer as well as methods of assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer. The methods of the present invention comprise the step of comparing the level of expression of a marker in a patient sample, wherein the marker is listed in Table 1 and the normal level of expression of the marker in a control, e.g., a sample from a patient without breast cancer. A significant difference between the level of expression of the marker in the patient sample and the normal level is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer. Preferably, a protein corresponding to the marker is a secreted protein or is predicted to correspond to a secreted protein. Alternatively, the marker can correspond to a protein having an extracellular portion, to one which is normally expressed in breast tissue at a detectable level, or both.

[0008] In one method, the marker(s) are preferably selected such that the positive predictive value of the method is at least about 10%. Also preferred are embodiments of the method wherein the marker is over- or under-expressed by at least two-fold in at least about 20% of stage 0 breast cancer patients, stage I breast cancer patients, stage IIA breast cancer patients, stage IIB breast cancer patients, stage IIIA breast cancer patients, stage IIIB breast cancer patients, stage IV breast cancer patients, grade I breast cancer patients, grade II breast cancer patients, grade III breast cancer patients, malignant breast cancer patients, ductal carcinoma breast cancer patients, and lobular carcinoma breast cancer patients.

[0009] In one embodiment of the methods of the present invention, the patient sample is a breast tissue-associated body fluid. Such fluids include, for example, blood fluids, lymph and cystic fluids, as well as nipple aspirates. In another embodiment, the sample comprises cells obtained from the patient. In another embodiment, the patient sample is in vivo.

[0010] In accordance with the methods of the present invention, the level of expression of a marker gene in a sample can be assessed, for example, by detecting the level in the sample of:

[0011] a protein encoded by the marker gene, or a polypeptide or a fragment comprising the protein (e.g. using a reagent, such as an antibody, an antibody derivative, or a single chain antibody, which binds specifically with the protein or a fragment thereof);

[0012] a metabolite which is produced directly (i.e., catalyzed) or indirectly by the protein encoded by the marker gene; and/or

[0013] a polynucleotide (e.g. an mRNA, hnRNA, cDNA) produced by or derived from the expression of the marker gene or a fragment of the polynucleotide (e.g. by contacting polynucleotides obtained or derived from the sample with a substrate having affixed thereto a nucleic acid comprising the marker gene sequence or a portion of such sequence).

[0014] The methods of the present invention are useful for further diagnosing patients having an identified breast mass or symptoms associated with breast cancer. The methods of the present invention may therefore be used to diagnose breast cancer or its precursors. The methods of the present invention can further be of particular use with patients having an enhanced risk of developing breast cancer (e.g., patients having a familial history of breast cancer and patients identified as having a mutant oncogene) in providing early detection of breast cancer. The methods of the present invention may further be of particular use in monitoring the efficacy of treatment of a breast cancer patient (e.g. the efficacy of chemotherapy).

[0015] The methods of the present invention may be performed by assessing the expression of a plurality (e.g. 2, 3, 5, or 10 or more) of breast cancer marker genes. According to a method involving a plurality of marker genes, the level of expression in a patient sample of each of a plurality of marker genes, including at least one that is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1, is compared with the normal level of expression of each of the plurality of marker genes in samples of the same type obtained from control subjects, i.e., human subjects not afflicted with breast cancer. A significantly altered, preferably increased, level of expression in the patient sample of one or more of the marker genes, or some combination thereof, relative to those marker genes' expression levels in samples from control subjects, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with or has a higher than normal risk for developing breast cancer. The methods of the present invention may be practiced using one or more marker genes of the invention in combination with one or more known breast cancer marker genes.

[0016] In a preferred method of assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer (e.g., new detection ("screening"), detection of recurrence, reflex testing), the method comprises comparing:

[0017] a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, in a patient sample, wherein at least one such gene is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1, and

[0018] b) the normal level of expression of the same marker gene(s) in a sample from a control subject having no breast cancer.

[0019] A significantly altered expression of one or several marker genes in the patient sample relative to the normal expression levels in the sample from the control subject is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer. In preferred embodiments, a significantly increased expression of one or more marker genes in the patient sample relative to the normal expression levels in the sample from the control subject is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer.

[0020] The invention further relates to a method of assessing the efficacy of a therapy for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient. This method comprises comparing:

[0021] a) expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a first sample obtained from the patient prior to providing at least a portion of the therapy to the patient, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1, and

[0022] b) expression of the same marker gene(s) in a second sample obtained from the patient following provision of the portion of the therapy.

[0023] A significantly altered expression of the level of expression of one or several of the marker genes in the second sample, relative to the first sample, is an indication that the therapy is efficacious for inhibiting breast cancer in the patient. In preferred embodiments, a significantly reduced expression of one or several of the marker genes in the second sample, relative to the first sample, is an indication that the therapy is efficacious.

[0024] It will be appreciated that in this method the "therapy" may be any therapy for treating breast cancer including, but not limited to, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, gene therapy, radiation therapy and surgical removal of tissue. Thus, the methods of the invention may be used to evaluate a patient before, during and after therapy, for example, to evaluate the reduction in tumor burden.

[0025] The present invention therefore further comprises a method for monitoring the progression of breast cancer in a patient, the method comprising:

[0026] a) detecting in a patient sample at a first time point, the expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1;

[0027] b) repeating step a) with patient sample obtained at a subsequent point in time; and

[0028] c) comparing the level of expression detected in steps a) and b), and therefrom monitoring the progression of breast cancer in the patient.

[0029] A significantly altered level of expression of one or several of the marker genes in the subsequent point in time, relative to the level of expression at the first time point, is an indication that the breast cancer has progressed. In preferred embodiments, a significantly increased expression of one or several of the marker genes in the subsequent point in time, relative to the first time point, is an indication that the breast cancer has progressed. Conversely, a significantly decreased expression of one or several of the marker genes in the subsequent point in time is an indication that the breast cancer has regressed.

[0030] The present invention also includes a method for assessing the aggressiveness of breast cancer, the method comprising comparing:

[0031] a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patient sample, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1, and

[0032] b) the level of expression of the same marker gene(s) in a sample from a control subject having breast cancer which is indolent.

[0033] A significantly altered level of expression of one or several of the marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with an aggressive breast cancer. In preferred embodiments, a significantly increased expression of one or more marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the expression level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with an aggressive breast cancer.

[0034] The present invention also includes a method for assessing the indolence of breast cancer, the method comprising comparing:

[0035] a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patient sample, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes listed in Table 1, and

[0036] b) the level of expression of the same marker gene(s) in a sample from a control subject having an aggressive breast cancer.

[0037] A significantly altered level of expression of one or several of the marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with an indolent breast cancer. In preferred embodiments, a significantly decreased expression of one or more marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the expression level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with an indolent breast cancer.

[0038] The present invention further includes a method for determining whether breast cancer has metastasized or is likely to metastasize in the future, the method comprising comparing:

[0039] a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patent sample, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes of Table 1 and

[0040] b) the level of expression of the same marker gene(s) in a sample from a control subject having non-metastasized breast cancer.

[0041] A significantly altered level of expression in the patient sample, relative to level of expression in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer that has metastasized or is likely to metastasize in the future. In preferred embodiments, a significantly increased expression of one or more marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the expression level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer that has metastasized or is likely to metastasize in the future.

[0042] The present invention also includes a method for determining whether breast cancer has not metastasized or is not likely to metastasize in the future, the method comprising comparing:

[0043] a) the level of expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes in a patent sample, wherein at least one such marker gene is selected from the marker genes of Table 1 and

[0044] b) the level of expression of the same marker gene(s) in a sample from a control subject having metastasized breast cancer.

[0045] A significantly altered level of expression in the patient sample, relative to the level of expression in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer that has not metastasized or is not likely to metastasize in the future. In preferred embodiments, a significantly decreased expression of one or more marker genes in the patient sample, relative to the expression level in the control subject sample, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer that has not metastasized or is not likely to metastasize in the future.

[0046] The invention also includes a method of selecting a composition for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient. This method comprises the steps of:

[0047] a) obtaining a sample comprising cancer cells from the patient;

[0048] b) separately maintaining aliquots of the sample in the presence of a plurality of test compositions;

[0049] c) comparing expression of one or more breast cancer marker genes, including at least one from the marker genes listed within Table 1, in each of the aliquots; and

[0050] d) selecting one of the test compositions which alters the level of expression of one or more of the marker genes in the aliquot containing that test composition, relative to other test compositions.

[0051] In preferred embodiments, the test composition which significantly reduces the expression of one or more marker genes, relative to the expression in the presence of another test composition, is selected.

[0052] In addition, the invention includes a method of inhibiting breast cancer in a patient. This method comprises the steps of:

[0053] a) obtaining a sample comprising cancer cells from the patient;

[0054] b) separately maintaining aliquots of the sample in the presence of a plurality of test compositions;

[0055] c) comparing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, including at least one marker genes listed within Table 1, in each of the aliquots; and

[0056] d) administering to the patient at least one of the test compositions which significantly alters the level of expression of the marker gene in the aliquot containing that test composition, relative to other test compositions.

[0057] In preferred embodiments, the test composition which significantly reduces the expression of one or more marker genes, relative to the expression in the presence of another test composition, is administered to the patient.

[0058] The invention also includes a kit for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer or its precursors. This kit comprises reagents for assessing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, including at least one of the marker genes listed within Table 1.

[0059] In another aspect, the invention relates to a kit for assessing the suitability of each of a plurality of compounds for inhibiting a breast cancer in a patient. The kit comprises a reagent for assessing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, including at least one of the marker genes listed in Table 1, and may also comprise a plurality of compounds.

[0060] In another aspect, the invention relates to a kit for assessing the presence of breast cancer cells. This kit comprises an antibody which binds specifically with a protein encoded by one of the marker genes listed in Table 1 or a polypeptide or a protein fragment comprising the protein. The kit may also comprise a plurality of antibodies, wherein the plurality binds specifically with a protein encoded by one of the marker genes listed in Table 1, a polypeptide or a protein fragment comprising the protein.

[0061] The invention also includes a kit for assessing the presence of breast cancer cells, wherein the kit comprises a nucleic acid probe. The probe binds specifically with a transcribed polynucleotide encoded by one of the marker genes listed within Table 1. The kit may also comprise a plurality of nucleic acid probes, wherein each of the probes binds specifically with a transcribed polynucleotide encoded by several different breast cancer marker genes, including at least one of the marker genes listed within Table 1.

[0062] The invention further relates to a method of making an isolated hybridoma which produces an antibody useful for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer. The method comprises immunizing a mammal with a composition comprising a protein encoded by a marker gene listed within Table 1, or a polypeptide or a protein fragment comprising the protein; isolating splenocytes from the immunized mammal; fusing the isolated splenocytes with an immortalized cell line to form hybridomas; and screening individual hybridomas for production of an antibody which specifically binds with the protein or parts thereof; to isolate the hybridoma. The invention also includes an antibody produced by this method.

[0063] The invention further includes a method of assessing the carcinogenic potential of a test compound. This method comprises the steps of:

[0064] a) maintaining separate aliquots of breast cells in the presence and absence of the test compound; and

[0065] b) comparing expression of one or several breast cancer marker genes, including at least one of the marker genes of Table 1 in each of the aliquots.

[0066] A significantly altered level of expression of one or more of the marker genes in the aliquot maintained in the presence of (or exposed to) the test compound, relative to the level of expression in the aliquot maintained in the absence of the test compound, is an indication that the test compound possesses breast carcinogenic potential. In preferred embodiments, a significantly increased expression of one of more of the marker genes in the aliquot maintained in the presence of (or exposed to) the test compound, relative to the level of expression in the aliquot maintained in the absence of the test compound, is an indication that the test compound possesses breast carcinogenic potential.

[0067] Additionally, the invention includes a kit for assessing the breast carcinogenic potential of a test compound. The kit comprises a reagent for assessing expression of a breast cancer marker gene of Table 1 in each of the aliquots.

[0068] The invention further relates to a method of treating a patient afflicted with breast cancer and/or inhibiting breast cancer in a patient at risk for developing breast cancer. This method comprises inhibiting expression (or overexpression) of a breast cancer marker gene listing within Table 1, which is overexpressed in breast cancer.

[0069] It will be appreciated that the methods and kits of the present invention may also include known cancer marker genes including known breast cancer marker genes. It will further be appreciated that the methods and kits may be used to identify cancers other than breast cancer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0070] The invention relates to newly discovered correlations between expression of certain marker genes and the cancerous state of breast cells. It has been discovered that the level of expression of individual marker genes and combinations of marker genes described herein correlates with the presence of breast cancer or a pre-malignant condition in a patient. Methods are provided for detecting the presence of breast cancer in a sample, the absence of breast cancer in a sample, the stage of a breast cancer, the metastatic potential of a breast cancer, the indolence or aggressiveness of the cancer, and other characteristics of breast cancer that are relevant to prevention, diagnosis, characterization and therapy of breast cancer in a patient.

[0071] Definitions

[0072] As used herein and the claims, each of the following terms has the meaning associated with it in this section.

[0073] The articles "a" and "an" are used herein to refer to one or to more than one (i.e. to at least one) of the grammatical object of the article. By way of example, "an element" means one element or more than one element.

[0074] The term "marker polynucleotide" is meant to include nucleotide transcript (hnRNA or mRNA) encoded by a breast cancer marker gene, preferably a marker gene listed in Table 1, or cDNA derived from the nucleotide transcript, or a segment of said transcript or cDNA.

[0075] The term "marker protein" is meant to include protein or polypeptide encoded by a breast cancer marker gene, preferably a marker gene listed in Table 1, or a polypeptide or protein fragment comprising said marker protein.

[0076] The term "gene product" is meant to include marker polynucleotide and marker protein encoded by the referenced gene.

[0077] As used herein the term "polynucleotide" is synonymous with "nucleic acid." Further a polynucleotide "corresponds to" another (a first) polynucleotide if it is related to the first polynucleotide by any of the following relationships: the second polynucleotide comprises the first polynucleotide and the second polynucleotide encodes a gene product; the second polynucleotide is the complement of the first polynucleotide and, the second polynucleotide is 5' or 3' to the first polynucleotide in cDNA, RNA, genomic DNA, or fragment of any of these polynucleotides. For example, a second polynucleotide may be a fragment of a gene that includes the first and second polynucleotides. The first and second polynucleotides are related in that they are components of the gene coding for a gene product, such as a protein or antibody. However, it is not necessary that the second polynucleotide comprises or overlaps with the first polynucleotide to be encompassed within the definition of "corresponding to" as used herein. For example, the first polynucleotide may be a fragment of a 3' untranslated region of the second polynucleotide. The first and second polynucleotide may be fragments of a gene coding for a gene product. The second polynucleotide may be an exon of the gene while the first polynucleotide may be an intron of the gene. The term "probe" refers to any molecule which is capable of selectively binding to a specifically intended target molecule, for example a marker gene of the invention. Probes can either be synthesized by one skilled in the art, or derived from appropriate biological preparations. For purposes of detection of the target molecule, probes may be specifically designed to be labeled, as described herein. Examples of molecules that can be utilized as probes include, but are not limited to, proteins, antibodies, organic monomers, RNA, DNA, and cDNA.

[0078] A "breast-associated" body fluid is a fluid which, when in the body of a patient, contacts or passes through breast cells or into which cells, nucleic acids or proteins shed from breast cells are capable of passing. Exemplary breast-associated body fluids include blood fluids, lymph, cystic fluid, urine and nipple aspirates.

[0079] The "normal" level of expression of a marker gene is the level of expression of the marker gene in breast cells or breast-associated body fluids of a subject, e.g. a human, not afflicted with breast cancer.

[0080] "Over-expression" and "under-expression" of a marker gene refer to expression of the marker gene of a patient at a greater or lesser level, respectively, than normal level of expression of the marker gene (e.g. at least two-fold greater or lesser level).

[0081] As used herein, the term "promoter/regulatory sequence" means a nucleic acid sequence which is required for expression of a gene product operably linked to the promoter/regulatory sequence. In some instances, this sequence may be the core promoter sequence and in other instances, this sequence may also include an enhancer sequence and other regulatory elements which are required for expression of the gene product. The promoter/regulatory sequence may, for example, be one which expresses the gene product in a tissue-specific manner.

[0082] A "constitutive" promoter is a nucleotide sequence which, when operably linked with a polynucleotide which encodes or specifies a gene product, causes the gene product to be produced in a living human cell under most or all physiological conditions of the cell.

[0083] An "inducible" promoter is a nucleotide sequence which, when operably linked with a polynucleotide which encodes or specifies a gene product, causes the gene product to be produced in a living human cell substantially only when an inducer which corresponds to the promoter is present in the cell.

[0084] A "tissue-specific" promoter is a nucleotide sequence which, when operably linked with a polynucleotide which encodes or specifies a gene product, causes the gene product to be produced in a living human cell substantially only if the cell is a cell of the tissue type corresponding to the promoter.

[0085] A "transcribed polynucleotide" is a polynucleotide (e.g an RNA, a cDNA, or an analog of one of an RNA or cDNA) which is complementary to or homologous with all or a portion of a mature RNA made by transcription of a gene, such as any of the marker genes of the invention, and normal post-transcriptional processing (e.g. splicing), if any, of the transcript.

[0086] "Complementary" refers to the broad concept of sequence complementarity between regions of two nucleic acid strands or between two regions of the same nucleic acid strand. It is known that an adenine residue of a first nucleic acid region is capable of forming specific hydrogen bonds ("base pairing") with a residue of a second nucleic acid region which is antiparallel to the first region if the residue is thymine or uracil. Similarly, it is known that a cytosine residue of a first nucleic acid strand is capable of base pairing with a residue of a second nucleic acid strand which is antiparallel to the first strand if the residue is guanine. A first region of a nucleic acid is complementary to a second region of the same or a different nucleic acid if, when the two regions are arranged in an antiparallel fashion, at least one nucleotide residue of the first region is capable of base pairing with a residue of the second region. Preferably, the first region, comprises a first portion and the second region comprises a second portion, whereby, when the first and second portions are arranged in an antiparallel fashion, at least about 50%, and preferably at least about 75%, at least about 90%, or at least about 95% of the nucleotide residues of the first portion are capable of base pairing with nucleotide residues in the second portion. More preferably, all nucleotide residues of the first portion are capable of base pairing with nucleotide residues in the second portion.

[0087] "Homologous" as used herein, refers to nucleotide sequence similarity between two regions of the same nucleic acid strand or between regions of two different nucleic acid strands. Homology between two regions is expressed in terms of the proportion of nucleotide residue positions of the two regions that are occupied by the same nucleotide residue. By way of example, a region having the nucleotide sequence 5'-ATTGCC-3' and a region having the nucleotide sequence 5'-TATGGC-3' share 50% homology. Preferably, the first region comprises a first portion and the second region comprises a second portion, whereby, at least about 50%, and preferably at least about 75%, at least about 90%, or at least about 95% of the nucleotide residue positions of each of the portions are occupied by the same nucleotide residue. More preferably, all nucleotide residue positions of each of the portions are occupied by the same nucleotide residue.

[0088] A nucleic acid or protein is "fixed" to a substrate if it is covalently or non-covalently associated with the substrate such that the substrate can be rinsed with a fluid (e.g. standard saline citrate, pH 7.4) without a substantial fraction of the nucleic acid or protein dissociating from the substrate.

[0089] As used herein, a "naturally-occurring" nucleic acid molecule refers to an RNA or DNA molecule having a nucleotide sequence that occurs in nature.

[0090] Expression of a marker gene in a patient is "significantly" altered from the level of expression of the marker gene in a control subject if the level of expression of the marker gene in a sample from the patient differs from the level in a sample from the control subject by an amount greater than the standard error of the assay employed to assess expression, and preferably at least twice, and more preferably three, four, five or ten times that amount. Expression of a marker gene in a patient is "significantly" higher than the level of expression of the marker gene in a control subject if the level of expression of the marker gene in a sample from the patient is greater than the level in a sample from the control subject by an amount greater than the standard error of the assay employed to assess expression, and preferably at least twice, and more preferably three, four, five or ten times that amount. Alternately, expression of the marker gene in the patient can be considered "significantly" lower than the level of expression in a control subject if the level of expression in a sample from the patient is lower than the level in a sample from the control subject by an amount greater than the standard error of the assay employed to assess expression, and preferably at least twice, and more preferably three, four, five or ten times that amount.

[0091] Breast cancer is "inhibited" if at least one symptom of the cancer is alleviated, terminated, slowed, or prevented. As used herein, breast cancer is also "inhibited" if recurrence or metastasis of the cancer is reduced, slowed, delayed, or prevented.

[0092] A kit is any manufacture (e.g. a package or container) comprising at least one reagent, e.g. a probe, for specifically detecting a marker gene or peptide of the invention. The manufacture is preferably promoted, distributed, or sold as a unit for performing the methods of the present invention.

[0093] Description

[0094] The present invention is based, in part, on the identification of proteins which are secreted or otherwise released from breast cancer cells but not from normal (i.e., non-cancerous) epithelial cells. The marker genes of the invention (listed in Table 1) encode such secreted or released proteins. The presence, absence, or level of expression of one or more of these marker genes and/or their gene products in breast cells or associated fluids is correlated with the cancerous state of the tissue. In particular, the level of expression a marker gene in Table 1 is increased in breast cancer cells relative to expression in normal epithelial cells. The invention thus includes compositions, kits, and methods for assessing the cancerous state of breast cells (e.g. cells obtained from a human, cultured human cells, archived or preserved human cells and in vivo cells).

[0095] The compositions, kits, and methods of the invention have the following uses, among others:

[0096] 1) assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer;

[0097] 2) assessing the stage of breast cancer in a human patient;

[0098] 3) assessing the grade of breast cancer in a patient;

[0099] 4) assessing the benign or malignant nature of breast cancer in a patient;

[0100] 5) assessing the metastatic potential of breast cancer in a patient;

[0101] 6) assessing the histological type of neoplasm (e.g. adenocarcinoma) associated with breast cancer in a patient;

[0102] 7) assessing the indolent or aggressive nature of breast cancer in a patient;

[0103] 8) making an isolated hybridoma which produces an antibody useful for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer;

[0104] 9) assessing the presence of breast cancer cells;

[0105] 10) assessing the efficacy of one or more test compounds for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient;

[0106] 11) assessing the efficacy of a therapy for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient;

[0107] 12) monitoring the progression of breast cancer in a patient;

[0108] 13) selecting a composition or therapy for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient;

[0109] 14) treating a patient afflicted with breast cancer;

[0110] 15) inhibiting breast cancer in a patient;

[0111] 16) assessing the breast carcinogenic potential of a test compound; and

[0112] 17) inhibiting breast cancer in a patient at risk for developing breast cancer.

[0113] The invention thus includes a method of assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer which includes assessing whether the patient has pre-metastasized breast cancer. This method comprises comparing the level of expression of a breast cancer marker gene in a patient sample and the normal level of expression of the marker gene in a control sample, e.g., a sample from a subject having no breast cancer. A significant difference between the level of expression of the marker gene in the patient sample and the normal level is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer. The breast cancer marker gene is selected from the group consisting of the marker genes listed within Table 1. In particular, the level of expression of the marker genes in Table 1 is increased in breast cancer cells relative to expression in normal breast cells. Although one or more marker genes listed within Table 1 or their encoded proteins may have been described by others, the significance of the level of expression of these marker genes with regard to the cancerous state of breast cells has not previously been recognized.

[0114] Any marker gene or combination of marker genes listed within Table 1, as well as any known breast cancer marker genes in combination with the marker genes set forth within Table 1, may be used in the compositions, kits, and methods of the present invention. In general, it is preferable to use marker genes for which the difference between the level of expression of the marker gene in breast cancer cells or breast-associated body fluids and the level of expression of the same marker gene in normal breast cells or breast-associated body fluids is as great as possible. Although this difference can be as small as the limit of detection of the method for assessing expression of the marker gene, it is preferred that the difference be at least greater than the standard error of the assessment method, and preferably a difference of at least 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25-, 100-, 500-, 1000-fold or greater.

[0115] It is recognized that certain markers correspond to proteins which are secreted from breast cells (i.e. one or both of normal and cancerous cells) to the extracellular space surrounding the cells. These markers are preferably used in certain embodiments of the compositions, kits, and methods of the invention, owing to the fact that the protein corresponding to each of these markers can be detected in an breast-associated body fluid sample, which may be more easily collected from a human patient than a tissue biopsy sample. In addition, preferred in vivo techniques for detection of a protein corresponding to a marker of the invention include introducing into a subject a labeled antibody directed against the protein. For example, the antibody can be labeled with a radioactive marker whose presence and location in a subject can be detected by standard imaging techniques.

[0116] Although not every marker corresponding to a secreted protein is indicated as such herein, it is a simple matter for the skilled artisan to determine whether any particular marker corresponds to a secreted protein. In order to make this determination, the protein corresponding to a marker is expressed in a test cell (e.g. a cell of a breast cell line), extracellular fluid is collected, and the presence or absence of the protein in the extracellular fluid is assessed (e.g. using a labeled antibody which binds specifically with the protein).

[0117] The following is an example of a method which can be used to detect secretion of a protein corresponding to a marker of the invention. About 8.times.10.sup.5 293T cells are incubated at 37.degree. C. in wells containing growth medium (Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium {DMEM} supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum) under a 5% (v/v) CO.sub.2, 95% air atmosphere to about 60-70% confluence. The cells are then transfected using a standard transfection mixture comprising 2 micrograms of DNA comprising an expression vector encoding the protein and 10 microliters of LipofectAMINE.TM. (GIBCO/BRL Catalog no. 18342-012) per well. The transfection mixture is maintained for about 5 hours, and then replaced with fresh growth medium and maintained in an air atmosphere. Each well is gently rinsed twice with DMEM which does not contain methionine or cysteine (DMEM-MC; ICN Catalog no. 16-424-54). About 1 milliliter of DMEM-MC and about 50 microcuries of Trans-.sup.35S.TM. reagent (ICN Catalog no. 51006) are added to each well. The wells are maintained under the 5% CO.sub.2 atmosphere described above and incubated at 37.degree. C. for a selected period. Following incubation, 150 microliters of conditioned medium is removed and centrifuged to remove floating cells and debris. The presence of the protein in the supernatant is an indication that the protein is secreted.

[0118] It will be appreciated that patient samples containing breast cells may be used in the methods of the present invention. In these embodiments, the level of expression of the marker gene can be assessed by assessing the amount (e.g. absolute amount or concentration) of a marker gene product (e.g., protein and RNA transcript encoded by the marker gene and fragments of the protein and RNA transcript) in a sample of breast-associated body fluid. Examples of breast-associated body fluids include blood fluids (e.g. whole blood, blood serum, blood having platelets removed therefrom, etc.), lymph, ascitic fluid, cystic fluid, urine and nipple aspirates. The breast-associated fluid sample can, of course, be subjected to a variety of well-known post-collection preparative and storage techniques (e.g. fixation, storage, freezing, lysis, homogenization, DNA or RNA extraction, ultrafiltration, concentration, evaporation, centrifugation, etc.) prior to assessing the amount of the marker gene product in the sample.

[0119] Preferred in vivo techniques for detection of a protein encoded by marker gene of the invention include introducing into a subject an antibody that specifically binds the protein, or a polypeptide or protein fragment comprising the protein. In certain embodiments, the antibody can be labeled with a radioactive molecule whose presence and location in a subject can be detected by standard imaging techniques.

[0120] Expression of a marker gene of the invention may be assessed by any of a wide variety of well known methods for detecting expression of a transcribed molecule or protein. Non-limiting examples of such methods include immunological methods for detection of secreted, cell-surface, cytoplasmic, or nuclear proteins, protein purification methods, protein function or activity assays, nucleic acid hybridization methods, nucleic acid reverse transcription methods, and nucleic acid amplification methods. Such method may also include physical methods such as liquid and gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance.

[0121] In a preferred embodiment, expression of a marker gene is assessed using an antibody (e.g. a radio-labeled, chromophore-labeled, fluorophore-labeled, or enzyme-labeled antibody), an antibody derivative (e.g. an antibody conjugated with a substrate or with the protein or ligand of a protein-ligand pair {e.g. biotin-streptavidin}), or an antibody fragment (e.g. a single-chain antibody, an isolated antibody hypervariable domain, etc.) which binds specifically with a protein encoded by the marker gene or a polypeptide or a protein fragment comprising the protein, wherein the protein may have undergone none, all or a portion of its normal post-translational modification and/or proteolysis during the course of its secretion or release from breast cells, cancerous or otherwise.

[0122] In another preferred embodiment, expression of a marker gene is assessed by preparing mRNA/cDNA (i.e. a transcribed polynucleotide) from cells in a patient sample, and by hybridizing the mRNA/cDNA with a reference polynucleotide which comprises the marker gene sequence or its complement, or a fragment of said sequence or complement. cDNA can, optionally, be amplified using any of a variety of polymerase chain reaction methods prior to hybridization with the reference polynucleotide. Expression of one or more marker genes can likewise be detected using quantitative PCR to assess the level of RNA transcripts encoded by the marker gene(s).

[0123] In a related embodiment, a mixture of transcribed polynucleotides obtained from the sample is contacted with a substrate having fixed thereto a polynucleotide complementary to or homologous with at least a portion (e.g. at least 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 100, 500, or more nucleotide residues) of a RNA transcript encoded by a marker gene of the invention. If polynucleotides complementary to or homologous with a RNA transcript encoded by the marker gene of the invention are differentially detectable on the substrate (e.g. detectable using radioactivity, different chromophores or fluorophores), are fixed to different selected positions, then the levels of expression of a plurality of marker genes can be assessed simultaneously using a single substrate (e.g. a "gene chip" microarray of polynucleotides fixed at selected positions). When a method of assessing marker gene expression is used which involves hybridization of one nucleic acid with another, it is preferred that the hybridization be performed under stringent hybridization conditions.

[0124] Because the compositions, kits, and methods of the invention rely on detection of a difference in expression levels of one or more marker genes of the invention, it is preferable that the level of expression of the marker gene is significantly greater than the minimum detection limit of the method used to assess expression in at least one of normal breast cells and cancerous breast cells.

[0125] It is understood that by routine screening of additional patient samples for the expression levels of one or more of the marker genes of the invention, it will be realized that certain of the marker genes are over- or underexpressed in cancers of various types, including specific breast cancers, as well as other cancers such as ovarian cancers. For example, it will be confirmed that some of the marker genes of the invention are over-expressed in most (i.e. 50% or more) or substantially all (i.e. 80% or more) of breast cancer. Furthermore, it will be confirmed that certain of the markers of the invention are associated with breast cancer of various stages (i.e. stage 0, I, II, II, and IV breast cancers, as well as subclassifications IIA, IIB, IIIA, and IIIB, using the FIGO Stage Grouping system for primary carcinoma of the breast; (see Breast, In: American Joint Committee on Cancer: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. Lippincott-Raven Publishers, 5th ed., 1997, pp. 171-180), of various histologic subtypes (e.g. serous, mucinous, endometroid, and clear cell subtypes, as well as subclassifications and alternate classifications adenocarcinoma, papillary adenocarcinoma, papillary cystadenocarcinoma, surface papillary carcinoma, malignant adenofibroma, cystadenofibroma, adenocarcinoma, cystadenocarcinoma, adenoacanthoma, endometrioid stromal sarcoma, mesodermal (Muillerian) mixed tumor, mesonephroid tumor, malignant carcinoma, Brenner tumor, mixed epithelial tumor, and undifferentiated carcinoma, using the WHO/FIGO system for classification of malignant breast tumors; Scully, Atlas of Tumor Pathology, 3d series, Washington D.C.), and various grades (i.e. grade I {well differentiated}, grade II {moderately well differentiated}, and grade III {poorly differentiated from surrounding normal tissue})).

[0126] It will thus be appreciated that as a greater number of patient samples are assessed for expression of the marker genes of the invention and the outcomes of the individual patients from whom the samples were obtained are correlated, it will also be confirmed that altered expression of certain of the marker genes of the invention are strongly correlated with malignant cancers and that altered expression of other marker genes of the invention are strongly correlated with benign tumors. The compositions, kits, and methods of the invention are thus useful for characterizing one or more of the stage, grade, histological type, metastatic potential, indolent vs. aggressive phenotype and benign/malignant nature of breast cancer in patients. In addition, these compositions, kits, and methods can be used to detect and differentiate lobular and ductal carcinoma breast cancers.

[0127] When the compositions, kits, and methods of the invention are used for characterizing one or more of the stage, grade, histological type, metastatic potential, indolent vs. aggressive phenotype and benign/malignant nature of breast cancer in a patient, it is preferred that the marker gene or panel of marker genes of the invention, whose expression level is assessed, is selected such that a positive result is obtained in at least about 20%, and preferably at least about 40%, 60%, or 80%, and more preferably in substantially all patients afflicted with a breast cancer of the corresponding stage, grade, histological type, metastatic potential, indolent vs. aggressive phenotype or benign/malignant nature. Preferably, the marker gene or panel of marker genes of the invention is selected such that a positive predictive value (PPV) of greater than about 10% is obtained for the general population.

[0128] When a plurality of marker genes of the invention are used in the methods of the invention, the level of expression of each marker gene in a patient sample can be compared with the normal level of expression of each of the plurality of marker genes in non-cancerous samples of the same type, either in a single reaction mixture (i.e. using reagents, such as different fluorescent probes, for each marker gene or a mixture of similiarly labeled probes to access expression level of a plurality of marker genes whose probes are fixed to a single substrate at different positions) or in individual reaction mixtures corresponding to one or more of the marker genes. In one embodiment, a significantly enhanced level of expression of more than one of the plurality of marker genes in the sample, relative to the corresponding normal levels, is an indication that the patient is afflicted with breast cancer. When the expression level of a plurality of marker genes is assessed, it is preferred that the expression level of 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, or 40 or more individual marker genes is assessed.

[0129] In order to maximize the sensitivity of the compositions, kits, and methods of the invention (i.e. by interference attributable to cells of non-breast origin in a patient sample), it is preferable that the marker gene of the invention whose expression level is examined therein be a marker gene which is tissue specific, e.g., normally not expressed in non-breast tissue.

[0130] There are only a small number of marker genes whose expression are known to be associated with breast cancers (e.g. BRCA1 and BRCA2). These marker genes are not, of course, included among the marker genes of the invention, although they may be used together with one or more marker genes of the invention in a panel of marker genes, for example. It is well known that certain types of genes, such as oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, growth factor-like genes, protease-like genes, and protein kinase-like genes are often involved with development of cancers of various types. Thus, among the marker genes of the invention, use of those which encode proteins which resemble known secreted proteins such as growth factors, proteases and protease inhibitors are preferred.

[0131] Known oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes include, for example, abl, abr, akt2, apc, bcl2 .alpha., bcl2.beta., bcl3, bcr, brca1, brca2, cbl, ccnd1, cdc42, cdk4, crk-II, csflr/fms, dbl, dcc, dpc4/smad4, e-cad, e2f/rbap, egfr/erbb-1, elk1, elk3, eph, erg, ets1, ets2, fer, fgr/src2, flil/ergb2, fos, fps/fes, fra1, fra2, fyn, hck, hek, her2/erbb-2/neu, her3/erbb-3, her4/erbb-4, hras1, hst2, hstf1, igfbp2, ink4a, ink4b, int2/fgf3, jun, junb, jund, kip2, kit, kras2a, kras2b, lck, lyn, mas, max, mcc, mdm2, met, mlh1, mmp10, mos, msh2, msh3, msh6, myb, myba, mybb, myc, mycl1, mycn, nf1, nf2, nme2, nras, p53, pdgfb, phb, pim1, pms1, pms2, ptc, pten, raf1, rap1a, rb1, rel, ret, ros1, ski, src1, tal1, tgfbr2, tgfb3, tgfbr3, thra1, thrb, tiam1, timp3, tjp1, tp53, trk, vav, vhl, vil2, waf1, wnt1, wnt2, wt1, and yes1 (Hesketh, 1997, In: The Oncogene and Tumour Suppressor Gene Facts Book, 2nd Ed., Academic Press; Fishel et al., 1994, Science 266:1403-1405).

[0132] Known growth factors include platelet-derived growth factor alpha, platelet-derived growth factor beta (simian sarcoma viral {v-sis) oncogene homolog), thrombopoietin (myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene ligand, megakaryocyte growth and development factor), erythropoietin, B cell growth factor, macrophage stimulating factor 1 (hepatocyte growth factor-like protein), hepatocyte growth factor (hepapoietin A), insulin-like growth factor 1 (somatomedia C), hepatoma-derived growth factor, amphiregulin (schwannoma-derived growth factor), bone morphogenetic proteins 1, 2, 3, 3 beta, and 4, bone morphogenetic protein 7 (osteogenic protein 1), bone morphogenetic protein 8 (osteogenic protein 2), connective tissue growth factor, connective tissue activation peptide 3, epidermal growth factor (EGF), teratocarcinoma-derived growth factor 1, endothelin, endothelin 2, endothelin 3, stromal cell-derived factor 1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VEGF-B, VEGF-C, placental growth factor (vascular endothelial growth factor-related protein), transforming growth factor alpha, transforming growth factor beta 1 and its precursors, transforming growth factor beta 2 and its precursors, fibroblast growth factor 1 (acidic), fibroblast growth factor 2 (basic), fibroblast growth factor 5 and its precursors, fibroblast growth factor 6 and its precursors, fibroblast growth factor 7 (keratinocyte growth factor), fibroblast growth factor 8 (androgen-induced), fibroblast growth factor 9 (glia-activating factor), pleiotrophin (heparin binding growth factor 8, neurite growth-promoting factor 1), brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and recombinant glial growth factor 2.

[0133] Known proteases include interleukin-1 beta convertase and its precursors, Mch6 and its precursors, Mch2 isoform alpha, Mch4, Cpp32 isoform alpha, Lice2 gamma cysteine protease, Ich-1S, Ich-1L, Ich-2 and its precursors, TY protease, matrix metalloproteinase 1 (interstitial collagenase), matrix metalloproteinase 2 (gelatinase A, 72kD gelatinase, 72kD type IV collagenase), matrix metalloproteinase 7 (matrilysin), matrix metalloproteinase 8 (neutrophil collagenase), matrix metalloproteinase 12 (macrophage elastase), matrix metalloproteinase 13 (collagenase 3), metallopeptidase 1, cysteine-rich metalloprotease (disintegrin) and its precursors, subtilisin-like protease Pc8 and its precursors, chymotrypsin, snake venom-like protease, cathepsin 1, cathepsin D (lysosomal aspartyl protease), stromelysin, aminopeptidase N, plasminogen, tissue plasminogen activator, plasminogen activator inhibitor type II, and urokinase-type plasminogen activator.

[0134] It is recognized that the compositions, kits, and methods of the invention will be of particular utility to patients having an enhanced risk of developing breast cancer and their medical advisors. Patients recognized as having an enhanced risk of developing breast cancer include, for example, patients having a familial history of breast cancer, patients identified as having a mutant oncogene (i.e. at least one allele), and patients determined through any other established medical criteria to be at risk for cancer or other malignancy.

[0135] The level of expression of a marker gene in normal (i.e. non-cancerous) human breast tissue can be assessed in a variety of ways. In one embodiment, this normal level of expression is assessed by assessing the level of expression of the marker gene in a portion of breast cells which appears to be non-cancerous and by comparing this normal level of expression with the level of expression in a portion of the breast cells which is suspected of being cancerous. For example, when mammography or another medical procedure reveals the presence of a lump in the patient's breast, the normal level of expression of a marker gene may be assessed using a non-affected portion of the breast and this normal level of expression may be compared with the level of expression of the same marker gene in an affected portion (i. e. the lump) of the breast. Alternately, and particularly as further information becomes available as a result of routine performance of the methods described herein, population-average values for normal expression of the marker genes of the invention may be used. In other embodiments, the `normal` level of expression of a marker gene may be determined by assessing expression of the marker gene in a patient sample obtained from a non-cancer-afflicted patient, from a patient sample obtained from a patient before the suspected onset of breast cancer in the patient, from archived patient samples, and the like.

[0136] The invention includes compositions, kits, and methods for assessing the presence of breast cancer cells in a sample (e.g an archived tissue sample or a sample obtained from a patient). These compositions, kits, and methods are substantially the same as those described above, except that, where necessary, the compositions, kits, and methods are adapted for use with samples other than patient samples. For example, when the sample to be used is a parafinized, archived human tissue sample, it can be necessary to adjust the ratio of compounds in the compositions of the invention, in the kits of the invention, or the methods used to assess levels of marker gene expression in the sample. Such methods are well known in the art and within the skill of the ordinary artisan.

[0137] The invention includes a kit for assessing the presence of breast cancer cells (e.g. in a sample such as a patient sample). The kit comprises a plurality of reagents, each of which is capable of binding specifically with a protein or nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Suitable reagents for binding with a protein encoded by a marker gene of the invention include antibodies, antibody derivatives, antibody fragments, and the like. Additional reagents for specifically binding with a protein encoded by a marker gene include any natural ligands of the protein and derivatives of such ligands. Suitable reagents for binding with a nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene (e.g. an hnRNA, a spliced mRNA, a cDNA corresponding to the mRNA, or the like) include complementary nucleic acids. For example, the nucleic acid reagents may include oligonucleotides (labeled or non-labeled) fixed to a substrate, labeled oligonucleotides not bound with a substrate, pairs of PCR primers, molecular beacon probes, and the like.

[0138] The kit of the invention may optionally comprise additional components useful for performing the methods of the invention. By way of example, the kit may comprise fluids (e.g. SSC buffer) suitable for binding an antibody with a protein with which it specifically binds or, for annealing complementary nucleic acids one or more sample compartments, instructional material which describes performance of a method of the invention, a sample of normal breast cells, a sample of breast cancer cells, and the like.

[0139] The invention also includes a method of making an isolated hybridoma which produces an antibody useful for assessing whether a patient is afflicted with breast cancer. In this method, a composition comprising a protein encoded by a marker gene or a polypeptide or protein fragment of the protein is used to immunize a vertebrate, preferably a mammal such as a mouse, rat, rabbit, or sheep. The vertebrate may optionally (and preferably) be immunized at least one additional time with the composition, so that the vertebrate exhibits a robust immune response to the protein or parts thereof. Splenocytes are isolated from the immunized vertebrate and fused with an immortalized cell line to form hybridomas, using any of a variety of methods well known in the art. Hybridomas formed in this manner are then screened using standard methods to identify one or more hybridomas which produce an antibody which specifically binds with the protein or part thereof. The invention also includes hybridomas made by this method and antibodies made using such hybridomas. An antibody of the invention may also be used as a therapeutic agent for treating cancers, particular breast cancers.

[0140] The invention also includes a method of assessing the efficacy of a test compound for inhibiting breast cancer cells. As described above, differences in the level of expression of the marker genes of the invention correlate with the cancerous state of breast cells. Although it is recognized that changes in the levels of expression of certain of the marker genes of the invention likely result from the cancerous state of breast cells, it is likewise recognized that changes in the levels of expression of other of the marker genes of the invention induce, maintain, and promote the cancerous state of those cells. Thus, compounds which inhibit breast cancer in a patient will cause the level of expression of one or more of the marker genes of the invention to change to a level nearer the normal level of expression for that marker gene (i.e. the level of expression for the marker gene in non-cancerous breast cells).

[0141] This method thus comprises comparing expression of a marker gene in a first breast cell sample and maintained in the presence of the test compound and expression of the marker gene in a second breast cell sample and maintained in the absence of the test compound. A significantly altered level of expression of a marker gene listed within Table 1 is an indication that the test compound inhibits breast cancer. The breast cell samples may, for example, be aliquots of a single sample of normal breast cells obtained from a patient, pooled samples of normal breast cells obtained from a patient, cells of a normal breast cell line, aliquots of a single sample of breast cancer cells obtained from a patient, pooled samples of breast cancer cells obtained from a patient, cells of a breast cancer cell line, or the like. In one embodiment, the samples are breast cancer cells obtained from a patient and a plurality of compounds known to be effective for inhibiting various breast cancers are tested in order to identify the compound which is likely to best inhibit the breast cancer in the patient.

[0142] This method may likewise be used to assess the efficacy of a therapy for inhibiting breast cancer in a patient. In this method, the level of expression of one or more marker genes of the invention in a pair of samples (one subjected to the therapy, the other not subjected to the therapy) is assessed. As with the method of assessing the efficacy of test compounds, if the therapy induces a significant alteration in the level of expression of a marker gene listed within Table 1 then the therapy is efficacious for inhibiting breast cancer. As above, if samples from a selected patient are used in this method, then alternative therapies can be assessed in vitro in order to select a therapy most likely to be efficacious for inhibiting breast cancer in the patient.

[0143] As described herein, breast cancer in patients is associated with an altered level of expression of one or more marker genes listed within Table 1. While, as discussed above, some of these changes in expression level result from occurrence of the breast cancer, others of these changes induce, maintain, and promote the cancerous state of breast cancer cells. Thus, breast cancer characterized by an altered level of expression of one or more marker genes listed within Table 1 can be controlled or suppressed by altering expression of those marker genes.

[0144] Expression of a marker gene listed within Table 1 can be inhibited in a number of ways generally known in the art. For example, an antisense oligonucleotide can be provided to the breast cancer cells in order to inhibit transcription, translation, or both, of the marker gene(s). Alternately, a polynucleotide encoding an antibody, an antibody derivative, or an antibody fragment, and operably linked with an appropriate promoter/regulator region, can be provided to the cell in order to generate intracellular antibodies which will inhibit the function or activity of the protein encoded by the marker gene(s). Using the methods described herein, a variety of molecules, particularly including molecules sufficiently small that they are able to cross the cell membrane, can be screened in order to identify molecules which inhibit expression of the marker gene(s). The compound so identified can be provided to the patient in order to inhibit expression of the marker gene(s) in the breast cancer cells of the patient.

[0145] Expression of a marker gene listed within Table 1 can be enhanced in a number of ways generally known in the art. For example, a gene construct comprising the coding region of the marker gene operably linked with an appropriate promoter/regulator region can be provided to breast cancer cells of the patient in order to induce enhanced expression of the protein (and mRNA) encoded by the marker gene. Expression of the protein can be enhanced by providing the protein (e.g. directly or by way of the bloodstream or another breast-associated fluid) to breast cancer cells in the patient.

[0146] As described above, the cancerous state of human breast cells is correlated with changes in the levels of expression of the marker genes of the invention. Thus, compounds which alter expression of one or more of the marker genes listed in within Table 1 can induce breast cell carcinogenesis. The invention thus includes a method for assessing the human breast cell carcinogenic potential of a test compound. This method comprises maintaining separate aliquots of human breast cells in the presence and absence of the test compound. Expression of a marker gene of the invention in each of the aliquots is compared. A significant alteration in the level of expression of a marker gene listed within Table 1 in the aliquot maintained in the presence of the test compound (relative to the aliquot maintained in the absence of the test compound) is an indication that the test compound possesses human breast cell carcinogenic potential. The relative carcinogenic potentials of various test compounds can be assessed by comparing the degree of enhancement or inhibition of the level of expression of the relevant marker genes, by comparing the number of marker genes for which the level of expression is enhanced or inhibited, or by comparing both.

[0147] Various aspects of the invention are described in further detail in the following subsections.

[0148] I. Isolated Nucleic Acid Molecules

[0149] One aspect of the invention pertains to isolated nucleic acid molecules that correspond to a marker gene of the invention. Such nucleic acid molecules comprise sequences of RNA transcripts encoded by the marker gene or portions of such transcripts. Isolated nucleic acids of the invention also include nucleic acid molecules sufficient for use as hybridization probes to identify of RNA transcripts encoded by the marker gene or portions of such transcripts, and fragments of such nucleic acid molecules, e.g., those suitable for use as PCR primers for the amplification or mutation of nucleic acid molecules. As used herein, the term "nucleic acid molecule" is intended to include DNA molecules (e.g., cDNA or genomic DNA) and RNA molecules (e.g., mRNA) and analogs of the DNA or RNA generated using nucleotide analogs. The nucleic acid molecule can be single-stranded or double-stranded, but preferably is double-stranded DNA.

[0150] The invention also encompasses polynucleotides which differ from that of the polynucleotides described herein, but which produce the same phenotypic effect, such as an allelic variant. These altered, but phenotypically equivalent polynucleotides are referred to as "equivalent nucleic acids." This invention also encompasses polynucleotides characterized by changes in non-coding regions that do not alter the polypeptide produced therefrom when compared to the polynucleotide herein. This invention further encompasses polynucleotides, which hybridize to the polynucleotides of the subject invention under conditions of moderate or high stringency. Alternatively, the polynucleotides are at least 85%, or at least 90%, or more preferably, greater or equal to 95% identical as determined by a sequence alignment program when run under default parameters.

[0151] An "isolated" nucleic acid molecule is one which is separated from other nucleic acid molecules which are present in the natural source of the nucleic acid molecule. Preferably, an "isolated" nucleic acid molecule comprises a protein-coding sequence and is free of sequences which naturally flank the coding sequence in the genomic DNA of the organism from which the nucleic acid is derived. For example, in various embodiments, the isolated nucleic acid molecule can contain less than about 5 kB, 4 kB, 3 kB, 2 kB, 1 kB, 0.5 kB or 0.1 kB of nucleotide sequences which naturally flank the nucleic acid molecule in genomic DNA of the cell from which the nucleic acid is derived. Moreover, an "isolated" nucleic acid molecule, such as a cDNA molecule, can be substantially free of other cellular material, or culture medium when produced by recombinant techniques, or substantially free of chemical precursors or other chemicals when chemically synthesized.

[0152] A nucleic acid molecule of the present invention, e.g., a nucleotide transcript encoded by a marker gene listed in Table 1, can be isolated using standard molecular biology techniques. Nucleic acid molecule of the present invention also encompass the marker genes of the invention, which can be isolated using standard hybridization and cloning techniques (e.g., as described in Sambrook et al., ed., Molecular Cloning. A Laboratory Manual, 2nd ed., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., 1989).

[0153] A process for identifying a larger fragment or the full-length coding sequence of a marker gene of the present invention is thus also provided. Any conventional recombinant DNA techniques applicable for isolating polynucleotides may be employed. One such method involves the 5'-RACE-PCR technique, in which the poly-A mRNA that contains the coding sequence of particular interest is first reverse transcribed with a 3'-primer comprising a sequence disclosed herein. The newly synthesized cDNA strand is then tagged with an anchor primer with a known sequence, which preferably contains a convenient cloning restriction site attached at the 5'end. The tagged cDNA is then amplified with the 3'-primer (or a nested primer sharing sequence homology to the internal sequences of the coding region) and the 5'-anchor primer. The amplification may be conducted under conditions of various levels of stringency to optimize the amplification specificity. 5'-RACE-PCR can be readily performed using commercial kits (available from, e.g., BRL Life Technologies Inc., Clontech) according to the manufacturer's instructions.

[0154] Isolating the complete coding sequence of a gene can also be carried out in a hybridization assay using a suitable probe. The probe preferably comprises at least 10 nucleotides, and more preferably exhibits sequence homology to the polynucleotides of the marker genes of the present invention. Other high throughput screens for cDNAs, such as those involving gene chip technology, can also be employed in obtaining the complete cDNA sequence.

[0155] In addition, databases exist that reduce the complexity of ESTs by assembling contiguous EST sequences into tentative genes. For example, TIGR has assembled human ESTs into a database called THC for tentative human consensus sequences. The THC database allows for a more definitive assignment compared to ESTs alone. Software programs exist (TIGR assembler and TIGEM EST assembly machine and contig assembly program (see Huang, X., 1996, Genomes 33:21-23)) that allow for assembling ESTs into contiguous sequences from any organism.

[0156] Alternatively, mRNA from a sample preparation is used to construct cDNA library in the ZAP Express vector following the procedure described in Velculescu et al., 1997, Science 270:484. The ZAP Express cDNA synthesis kit (Stratagene) is used accordingly to the manufacturer's protocol. Plates containing 250 to 2000 plaques are hybridized as described in Rupert et aL, 1988, Mol. Cell. Bio. 8:3104 to oligonucleotide probes with the same conditions previously described for standard probes except that the hybridization temperature is reduced to a room temperature. Washes are performed in 6.times. standard-saline-citrate 0.1% SDS for 30 minutes at room temperature. The probes are labeled with .sup.32P-ATP trough use of T4 polynucleotide kinase.

[0157] A partial cDNA (3' fragment) can be isolated by 3' directed PCR reaction. This procedure is a modification of the protocol described in Polyak et al., 1997, Nature 389:300. Briefly, the procedure uses SAGE tags in PCR reaction such that the resultant PCR product contains the SAGE tag of interest as well as additional cDNA, the length of which is defined by the position of the tag with respect to the 3' end of the cDNA. The cDNA product derived from such a transcript driven PCR reaction can be used for many applications.

[0158] RNA from a source to express the cDNA corresponding to a given tag is first converted to double-stranded cDNA using any standard cDNA protocol. Similar conditions used to generate cDNA for SAGE library construction can be employed except that a modified oligo-dT primer is used to derive the first strand synthesis. For example, the oligonucleotide of composition 5'-B-TCC GGC GCG CCG TTT TCC CAG TCA CGA(30)-3', contains a poly-T stretch at the 3' end for hybridization and priming from poly-A tails, an M13 priming site for use in subsequent PCR steps, a 5' Biotin label (B) for capture to strepavidin-coated magnetic beads, and an AscI restriction endonuclease site for releasing the cDNA from the strepavidin-coated magnetic beads. Theoretically, any sufficiently-sized DNA region capable of hybridizing to a PCR primer can be used as well as any other 8 base pair recognizing endonuclease.

[0159] cDNA constructed utilizing this or similar modified oligo-dT primer is then processed as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,695,937 up until adapter ligation where only one adapter is ligated to the cDNA pool. After adapter ligation, the cDNA is released from the streptavidin-coated magnetic beads and is then used as a template for cDNA amplification.

[0160] Various PCR protocols can be employed using PCR priming sites within the 3' modified oligo-dT primer and the SAGE tag. The SAGE tag-derived PCR primer employed can be of varying length dictated by 5' extension of the tag into the adaptor sequence. cDNA products are now available for a variety of applications.

[0161] This technique can be further modified by: (1) altering the length and/or content of the modified oligo-dT primer; (2) ligating adaptors other than that previously employed within the SAGE protocol; (3) performing PCR from template retained on the streptavidin-coated magnetic beads; and (4) priming first strand cDNA synthesis with non-oligo-dT based primers.

[0162] Gene trapper technology can also be used. The reagents and manufacturer's instructions for this technology are commercially available from Life Technologies, Inc., Gaithsburg, Md. Briefly, a complex population of single-stranded phagemid DNA containing directional cDNA inserts is enriched for the target sequence by hybridization in solution to a biotinylated oligonucleotide probe complementary to the target sequence. The hybrids are captured on streptavidin-coated paramagnetic beads. A magnet retrieves the paramagnetic beads from the solution, leaving nonhybridized single-stranded DNAs behind. Subsequently, the captured single-stranded DNA target is released from the biotinylated oligonucleotide. After release, the cDNA clone is further enriched by using a nonbiotinylated target oligonucleotide to specifically prime conversion of the single-stranded DNA. Following transformation and plating, typically 20% to 100% of the colones represent the cDNA clone of interest. To identify the desired cDNA clone, the colones may be screened by colony hybridization using the .sup.32P-labeled oligonucleotide, or alternatively by DNA sequencing and alignment of all sequences obtained from numerous clones to determine a consensus sequence.

[0163] A nucleic acid molecule of the invention can be amplified using cDNA, mRNA, or genomic DNA as a template and appropriate oligonucleotide primers according to standard PCR amplification techniques. The nucleic acid so amplified can be cloned into an appropriate vector and characterized by DNA sequence analysis. Furthermore, oligonucleotides corresponding to all or a portion of a nucleic acid molecule of the invention can be prepared by standard synthetic techniques, e.g., using an automated DNA synthesizer.

[0164] In another preferred embodiment, an isolated nucleic acid molecule of the invention comprises a nucleotide sequence of a RNA transcript encoded by a marker gene of the invention or a complement of said sequence. A nucleic acid molecule which is complementary to a given nucleotide sequence is one which is sufficiently complementary to the given nucleotide sequence that it can hybridize to the given nucleotide sequence thereby forming a stable duplex.

[0165] Moreover, a nucleic acid molecule of the invention can comprise only a portion of the nucleotide sequence (RNA or cDNA) of a RNA transcript encoded by a marker gene of the invention or a complement of said sequence. Such nucleic acids can be used, for example, as a probe or primer. The probe/primer typically is used as one or more substantially purified oligonucleotides. The oligonucleotide typically comprises a region of nucleotide sequence that hybridizes under stringent conditions to at least about 7, preferably about 15, more preferably about 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 250, 300, 350, or 400 or more consecutive nucleotides of a nucleic acid of the invention.

[0166] Probes based on the sequence of a nucleic acid molecule of the invention can be used to detect transcripts or genomic sequences of one or more marker genes of the invention. The probe comprises a label group attached thereto, e.g., a radioisotope, a fluorescent compound, an enzyme, or an enzyme co-factor. Such probes can be used as part of a diagnostic test kit for identifying cells or tissues which mis-express the protein, such as by measuring levels of a nucleic acid molecule encoding the protein in a sample of cells from a subject, e.g., detecting mRNA levels or determining whether a gene encoding the protein has been mutated or deleted.

[0167] The invention further encompasses nucleic acid molecules that differ, due to degeneracy of the genetic code, from the nucleotide sequence of nucleic acids encoding a protein which corresponds to a marker gene of the invention, and thus encode the same protein.

[0168] In addition to the nucleotide sequences described in the GenBank and IMAGE Consortium database records described herein, and in Table 1, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that DNA sequence polymorphisms that lead to changes in the amino acid sequence can exist within a population (e.g., the human population). Such genetic polymorphisms can exist among individuals within a population due to natural allelic variation. An allele is one of a group of genes which occur alternatively at a given genetic locus. In addition, it will be appreciated that DNA polymorphisms that affect RNA expression levels can also exist that may affect the overall expression level of that gene (e.g., by affecting regulation or degradation).

[0169] As used herein, the phrase "allelic variant" refers to a nucleotide sequence which occurs at a given locus or to a polypeptide encoded by the nucleotide sequence.

[0170] As used herein, the terms "gene" and "recombinant gene" refer to nucleic acid molecules comprising an open reading frame encoding a polypeptide by a marker gene of the invention. Such natural allelic variations can typically result in 0.1-0.5% variance in the nucleotide sequence of a given gene. Alternative alleles can be identified by sequencing the gene of interest in a number of different individuals. This can be readily carried out by using hybridization probes to identify the same genetic locus in a variety of individuals. Any and all such nucleotide variations and resulting amino acid polymorphisms or variations that are the result of natural allelic variation and that do not alter the functional activity are intended to be within the scope of the invention.

[0171] In another embodiment, an isolated nucleic acid molecule of the invention is at least 7, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 60, 80, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 550, 650, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600, 2800, 3000, 3500, 4000, 4500, or more nucleotides in length and hybridizes under stringent conditions to a RNA transcript of a marker gene of the invention or a portion of said transcript or a cDNA corresponding to said transcript or portion thereof. As used herein, the term "hybridizes under stringent conditions" is intended to describe conditions for hybridization and washing under which nucleotide sequences at least 75% (80%, 85%, preferably 90%) identical to each other typically remain hybridized to each other. Such stringent conditions are known to those skilled in the art and can be found in sections 6.3.1-6.3.6 of Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, John Wiley & Sons, N.Y. (1989). A preferred, non-limiting example of stringent hybridization conditions for annealing two single-stranded DNA each of which is at least about 100 bases in length and/or for annealing a single-stranded DNA and a single-stranded RNA each of which is at least about 100 bases in length, are hybridization in 6.times. sodium chloride/sodium citrate (SSC) at about 45.degree. C., followed by one or more washes in 0.2.times.SSC, 0.1% SDS at 50-65.degree. C. Further preferred hybridization conditions are taught in Lockhart, et al., Nature Biotechnology, Volume 14, 1996 August:1675-1680; Breslauer, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Volume 83, 1986 June: 3746-3750; Van Ness, et al., Nucleic Acids Research, Volume 19, No. 19, 1991 September: 5143-5151; McGraw, et al., BioTechniques, Volume 8, No. 6 1990: 674-678; and Milner, et al., Nature Biotechnology, Volume 15, 1997 June: 537-541, all expressly incorporated by reference.

[0172] In addition to naturally-occurring allelic variants of a nucleic acid molecule of the invention that can exist in the population, the skilled artisan will further appreciate that sequence changes can be introduced by mutation thereby leading to changes in the amino acid sequence of the encoded protein, without altering the biological activity of the protein encoded thereby. For example, one can make nucleotide substitutions leading to amino acid substitutions at "non-essential" amino acid residues. A "non-essential" amino acid residue is a residue that can be altered from the wild-type sequence without altering the biological activity, whereas an "essential" amino acid residue is required for biological activity. For example, amino acid residues that are not conserved or only semi-conserved among homologs of various species may be non-essential for activity and thus would be likely targets for alteration. Alternatively, amino acid residues that are conserved among the homologs of various species (e.g., murine and human) may be essential for activity and thus would not be likely targets for alteration.

[0173] Accordingly, another aspect of the invention pertains to nucleic acid molecules encoding a polypeptide of the invention that contain changes in amino acid residues that are not essential for activity. Such polypeptides differ in amino acid sequence from the naturally-occurring proteins encoded by the marker genes of the invention, yet retain biological activity. In one embodiment, such a protein has an amino acid sequence that is at least about 40% identical, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or 98% identical to the amino acid sequence of one of the proteins encoded by the marker genes of the invention.

[0174] An isolated nucleic acid molecule encoding a variant protein can be created by introducing one or more nucleotide substitutions, additions or deletions into the nucleotide sequence of nucleic acids of the invention, such that one or more amino acid residue substitutions, additions, or deletions are introduced into the encoded protein. Mutations can be introduced by standard techniques, such as site-directed mutagenesis and PCR-mediated mutagenesis. Preferably, conservative amino acid substitutions are made at one or more predicted non-essential amino acid residues. A "conservative amino acid substitution" is one in which the amino acid residue is replaced with an amino acid residue having a similar side chain. Families of amino acid residues having similar side chains have been defined in the art. These families include amino acids with basic side chains (e.g., lysine, arginine, histidine), acidic side chains (e.g., aspartic acid, glutamic acid), uncharged polar side chains (e.g., glycine, asparagine, glutamine, serine, threonine, tyrosine, cysteine), non-polar side chains (e.g., alanine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, proline, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan), beta-branched side chains (e.g., threonine, valine, isoleucine) and aromatic side chains (e.g., tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, histidine). Alternatively, mutations can be introduced randomly along all or part of the coding sequence, such as by saturation mutagenesis, and the resultant mutants can be screened for biological activity to identify mutants that retain activity. Following mutagenesis, the encoded protein can be expressed recombinantly and the activity of the protein can be determined.

[0175] The present invention encompasses antisense nucleic acid molecules, i.e., molecules which are complementary to a sense nucleic acid of the invention, e.g., complementary to the coding strand of a double-stranded cDNA molecule corresponding to a marker gene of the invention or complementary to an mRNA sequence corresponding to a marker gene of the invention. Accordingly, an antisense nucleic acid of the invention can hydrogen bond to (i.e. anneal with) a sense nucleic acid of the invention. The antisense nucleic acid can be complementary to an entire coding strand, or to only a portion thereof, e.g., all or part of the protein coding region (or open reading frame). An antisense nucleic acid molecule can also be antisense to all or part of a non-coding region of the coding strand of a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide of the invention. The non-coding regions ("5' and 3' untranslated regions") are the 5' and 3' sequences which flank the coding region and are not translated into amino acids.

[0176] An antisense oligonucleotide can be, for example, about 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 or more nucleotides in length. An antisense nucleic acid of the invention can be constructed using chemical synthesis and enzymatic ligation reactions using procedures known in the art. For example, an antisense nucleic acid (e.g., an antisense oligonucleotide) can be chemically synthesized using naturally occurring nucleotides or variously modified nucleotides designed to increase the biological stability of the molecules or to increase the physical stability of the duplex formed between the antisense and sense nucleic acids, e.g., phosphorothioate derivatives and acridine substituted nucleotides can be used. Examples of modified nucleotides which can be used to generate the antisense nucleic acid include 5-fluorouracil, 5-bromouracil, 5-chlorouracil, 5-iodouracil, hypoxanthine, xanthine, 4-acetylcytosine, 5-(carboxyhydroxylmethyl) uracil, 5-carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouridin- e, 5-carboxymethylaminomethyluracil, dihydrouracil, beta-D-galactosylqueosine, inosine, N6-isopentenyladenine, 1-methylguanine, 1-methylinosine, 2,2-dimethylguanine, 2-methyladenine, 2-methylguanine, 3-methylcytosine, 5-methylcytosine, N6-adenine, 7-methylguanine, 5-methylaminomethyluracil, 5-methoxyaminomethyl-2-thiour- acil, beta-D-mannosylqueosine, 5'-methoxycarboxymethyluracil, 5-methoxyuracil, 2-methylthio-N6-isopentenyladenine, uracil-5-oxyacetic acid (v), wybutoxosine, pseudouracil, queosine, 2-thiocytosine, 5-methyl-2-thiouracil, 2-thiouracil, 4-thiouracil, 5-methyluracil, uracil-5-oxyacetic acid methylester, uracil-5-oxyacetic acid (v), 5-methyl-2-thiouracil, 3-(3-amino-3-N-2-carboxypropyl) uracil, (acp3)w, and 2,6-diaminopurine. Alternatively, the antisense nucleic acid can be produced biologically using an expression vector into which a nucleic acid has been sub-cloned in an antisense orientation (i.e., RNA transcribed from the inserted nucleic acid will be of an antisense orientation to a target nucleic acid of interest, described further in the following subsection).

[0177] The antisense nucleic acid molecules of the invention are typically administered to a subject or generated in situ such that they hybridize with or bind to cellular mRNA and/or genomic DNA encoding a polypeptide corresponding to a selected marker gene of the invention to thereby inhibit expression of the marker gene, e.g., by inhibiting transcription and/or translation. The hybridization can be by conventional nucleotide complementarity to form a stable duplex, or, for example, in the case of an antisense nucleic acid molecule which binds to DNA duplexes, through specific interactions in the major groove of the double helix. Examples of a route of administration of antisense nucleic acid molecules of the invention includes direct injection at a tissue site or infusion of the antisense nucleic acid into a breast-associated body fluid. Alternatively, antisense nucleic acid molecules can be modified to target selected cells and then administered systemically. For example, for systemic administration, antisense molecules can be modified such that they specifically bind to receptors or antigens expressed on a selected cell surface, e.g., by linking the antisense nucleic acid molecules to peptides or antibodies which bind to cell surface receptors or antigens. The antisense nucleic acid molecules can also be delivered to cells using the vectors described herein. To achieve sufficient intracellular concentrations of the antisense molecules, vector constructs in which the antisense nucleic acid molecule is placed under the control of a strong pol II or pol III promoter are preferred.

[0178] An antisense nucleic acid molecule of the invention can be an .alpha.-anomeric nucleic acid molecule. An .alpha.-anomeric nucleic acid molecule forms specific double-stranded hybrids with complementary RNA in which, contrary to the usual .alpha.-units, the strands run parallel to each other (Gaultier et al., 1987, Nucleic Acids Res. 15:6625-6641). The antisense nucleic acid molecule can also comprise a 2'-o-methylribonucleotide (Inoue et al., 1987, Nucleic Acids Res. 15:6131-6148) or a chimeric RNA-DNA analogue (Inoue et al., 1987, FEBS Lett. 215:327-330).

[0179] The invention also encompasses ribozymes. Ribozymes are catalytic RNA molecules with ribonuclease activity which are capable of cleaving a single-stranded nucleic acid, such as an mRNA, to which they have a complementary region. Thus, ribozymes (e.g., hammerhead ribozymes as described in Haselhoff and Gerlach, 1988, Nature 334:585-591) can be used to catalytically cleave mRNA transcripts to thereby inhibit translation of the protein encoded by the mRNA. A ribozyme having specificity for a nucleic acid molecule encoding by a marker gene of the invention can be designed based upon the nucleotide sequence of a cDNA corresponding to the marker gene. For example, a derivative of a Teirahymena L-19 IVS RNA can be constructed in which the nucleotide sequence of the active site is complementary to the nucleotide sequence to be cleaved (see Cech et al. U.S. Pat. No. 4,987,071; and Cech et al. U.S. Pat. No. 5,116,742). Alternatively, an mRNA encoding a polypeptide of the invention can be used to select a catalytic RNA having a specific ribonuclease activity from a pool of RNA molecules (see, e.g., Bartel and Szostak, 1993, Science 261:1411-1418).

[0180] The invention also encompasses nucleic acid molecules which form triple helical structures. For example, expression of a polypeptide of the invention can be inhibited by targeting nucleotide sequences complementary to the regulatory region of the gene encoding the polypeptide (e.g., the promoter and/or enhancer) to form triple helical structures that prevent transcription of the gene in target cells. See generally Helene (1991) Anticancer Drug Des. 6(6):569-84; Helene (1992) Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 660:27-36; and Maher (1992) Bioassays 14(12):807-15.

[0181] In various embodiments, the nucleic acid molecules of the invention can be modified at the base moiety, sugar moiety or phosphate backbone to improve, e.g., the stability, hybridization, or solubility of the molecule. For example, the deoxyribose phosphate backbone of the nucleic acids can be modified to generate peptide nucleic acids (see Hyrup et al., 1996, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 4(1): 5-23). As used herein, the terms "peptide nucleic acids" or "PNAs" refer to nucleic acid mimics, e.g., DNA mimics, in which the deoxyribose phosphate backbone is replaced by a pseudopeptide backbone and only the four natural bases are retained. The neutral backbone of PNAs has been shown to allow for specific hybridization to DNA and RNA under conditions of low ionic strength. The synthesis of PNA oligomers can be performed using standard solid phase peptide synthesis protocols as described in Hyrup et al. (1996), supra; Perry-O'Keefe et al. (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. USA 93:14670-675.

[0182] PNAs can be used in therapeutic and diagnostic applications. For example, PNAs can be used as antisense or anti-gene agents for sequence-specific modulation of gene expression by, e.g., inducing transcription or translation arrest or inhibiting replication. PNAs can also be used, e.g., in the analysis of single base pair mutations in a gene by, e.g., PNA directed PCR clamping; as artificial restriction enzymes when used in combination with other enzymes, e.g., S1 nucleases (Hyrup (1996), supra; or as probes or primers for DNA sequence and hybridization (Hyrup, 1996, supra; Perry-O'Keefe et al., 1996, Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. USA 93:14670-675).

[0183] In another embodiment, PNAs can be modified, e.g., to enhance their stability or cellular uptake, by attaching lipophilic or other helper groups to PNA, by the formation of PNA-DNA chimeras, or by the use of liposomes or other techniques of drug delivery known in the art. For example, PNA-DNA chimeras can be generated which can combine the advantageous properties of PNA and DNA. Such chimeras allow DNA recognition enzymes, e.g., RNASE H and DNA polymerases, to interact with the DNA portion while the PNA portion would provide high binding affinity and specificity. PNA-DNA chimeras can be linked using linkers of appropriate lengths selected in terms of base stacking, number of bonds between the bases, and orientation (Hyrup, 1996, supra). The synthesis of PNA-DNA chimeras can be performed as described in Hyrup (1996), supra, and Finn et al. (1996) Nucleic Acids Res. 24(17):3357-63. For example, a DNA chain can be synthesized on a solid support using standard phosphoramidite coupling chemistry and modified nucleoside analogs. Compounds such as 5'-(4-methoxytrityl)amino-5'-deoxy-thymidine phosphoramidite can be used as a link between the PNA and the 5' end of DNA (Mag et al., 1989, Nucleic Acids Res. 17:5973-88). PNA monomers are then coupled in a step-wise manner to produce a chimeric molecule with a 5' PNA segment and a 3' DNA segment (Finn et al., 1996, Nucleic Acids Res. 24(17):3357-63). Alternatively, chimeric molecules can be synthesized with a 5' DNA segment and a 3' PNA segment (Peterser et al., 1975, Bioorganic Med. Chem. Lett. 5:1119-11124).

[0184] In other embodiments, the oligonucleotide can include other appended groups such as peptides (e.g., for targeting host cell receptors in vivo), or agents facilitating transport across the cell membrane (see, e.g., Letsinger et al., 1989, Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. USA 86:6553-6556; Lemaitre et al., 1987, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84:648-652; PCT Publication No. WO 88/09810) or the blood-brain barrier (see, e.g., PCT Publication No. WO 89/10134). In addition, oligonucleotides can be modified with hybridization-triggered cleavage agents (see, e.g., Krol et al., 1988, Bio/Techniques 6:958-976) or intercalating agents (see, e.g., Zon, 1988, Pharm. Res. 5:539-549). To this end, the oligonucleotide can be conjugated to another molecule, e.g., a peptide, hybridization triggered cross-linking agent, transport agent, hybridization-triggered cleavage agent, etc.

[0185] The invention also includes molecular beacon nucleic acids having at least one region which is complementary to a nucleic acid of the invention, such that the molecular beacon is useful for quantitating the presence of the nucleic acid of the invention in a sample. A "molecular beacon" nucleic acid is a nucleic acid comprising a pair of complementary regions and having a fluorophore and a fluorescent quencher associated therewith. The fluorophore and quencher are associated with different portions of the nucleic acid in such an orientation that when the complementary regions are annealed with one another, fluorescence of the fluorophore is quenched by the quencher. When the complementary regions of the nucleic acid are not annealed with one another, fluorescence of the fluorophore is quenched to a lesser degree. Molecular beacon nucleic acids are described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,876,930.

[0186] II. Isolated Proteins and Antibodies

[0187] One aspect of the invention pertains to isolated proteins encoded by individual marker genes of the invention, and biologically active portions thereof, as well as polypeptide fragments suitable for use as immunogens to raise antibodies directed against a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention. In one embodiment, the native polypeptide encoded by a marker gene can be isolated from cells or tissue sources by an appropriate purification scheme using standard protein purification techniques. In another embodiment, polypeptides encoded by a marker gene of the invention are produced by recombinant DNA techniques. Alternative to recombinant expression, a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention can be synthesized chemically using standard peptide synthesis techniques.

[0188] An "isolated" or "purified" protein or biologically active portion thereof is substantially free of cellular material or other contaminating proteins from the cell or tissue source from which the protein is derived, or substantially free of chemical precursors or other chemicals when chemically synthesized. The language "substantially free of cellular material" includes preparations of protein in which the protein is separated from cellular components of the cells from which it is isolated or recombinantly produced. Thus, protein that is substantially free of cellular material includes preparations of protein having less than about 30%, 20%, 10%, or 5% (by dry weight) of heterologous protein (also referred to herein as a "contaminating protein"). When the protein or biologically active portion thereof is recombinantly produced, it is also preferably substantially free of culture medium, i.e., culture medium represents less than about 20%, 10%, or 5% of the volume of the protein preparation. When the protein is produced by chemical synthesis, it is preferably substantially free of chemical precursors or other chemicals, i.e., it is separated from chemical precursors or other chemicals which are involved in the synthesis of the protein. Accordingly such preparations of the protein have less than about 30%, 20%, 10%, 5% (by dry weight) of chemical precursors or compounds other than the polypeptide of interest.

[0189] Biologically active portions of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention include polypeptides comprising amino acid sequences sufficiently identical to or derived from the amino acid sequence of the protein encoded by the marker gene (e.g., the amino acid sequence listed in the GenBank and IMAGE Consortium database records described herein), which include fewer amino acids than the full length protein, and exhibit at least one activity of the corresponding full-length protein. Typically, biologically active portions comprise a domain or motif with at least one activity of the corresponding protein. A biologically active portion of a protein of the invention can be a polypeptide which is, for example, 10, 25, 50, 100 or more amino acids in length. Moreover, other biologically active portions, in which other regions of the protein are deleted, can be prepared by recombinant techniques and evaluated for one or more of the functional activities of the native form of a polypeptide of the invention.

[0190] Preferred polypeptides have the amino acid sequence listed in the NCBI Protein Database records described herein. Other useful proteins are substantially identical (e.g., at least about 40%, preferably 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or 99%) to one of these sequences and retain the functional activity of the protein of the corresponding naturally-occurring protein yet differ in amino acid sequence due to natural allelic variation or mutagenesis.

[0191] To determine the percent identity of two amino acid sequences or of two nucleic acids, the sequences are aligned for optimal comparison purposes (e.g., gaps can be introduced in the sequence of a first amino acid or nucleic acid sequence for optimal alignment with a second amino or nucleic acid sequence). The amino acid residues or nucleotides at corresponding amino acid positions or nucleotide positions are then compared. When a position in the first sequence is occupied by the same amino acid residue or nucleotide as the corresponding position in the second sequence, then the molecules are identical at that position. The percent identity between the two sequences is a function of the number of identical positions shared by the sequences (i.e., % identity=# of identical positions/total # of positions (e.g., overlapping positions).times.100). In one embodiment the two sequences are the same length.

[0192] The determination of percent identity between two sequences can be accomplished using a mathematical algorithm. A preferred, non-limiting example of a mathematical algorithm utilized for the comparison of two sequences is the algorithm of Karlin and Altschul (1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 87:2264-2268, modified as in Karlin and Altschul (1993) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:5873-5877. Such an algorithm is incorporated into the NBLAST and XBLAST programs of Altschul, el al. (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410. BLAST nucleotide searches can be performed with the NBLAST program, score=100, wordlength=12 to obtain nucleotide sequences homologous to a nucleic acid molecules of the invention. BLAST protein searches can be performed with the XBLAST program, score=50, wordlength=3 to obtain amino acid sequences homologous to a protein molecules of the invention. To obtain gapped alignments for comparison purposes, Gapped BLAST can be utilized as described in Altschul et al. (1997) Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389-3402. Alternatively, PSI-Blast can be used to perform an iterated search which detects distant relationships between molecules. When utilizing BLAST, Gapped BLAST, and PSI-Blast programs, the default parameters of the respective programs (e.g., XBLAST and NBLAST) can be used. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Another preferred, non-limiting example of a mathematical algorithm utilized for the comparison of sequences is the algorithm of Myers and Miller, (1988) CABIOS4:11-17. Such an algorithm is incorporated into the ALIGN program (version 2.0) which is part of the GCG sequence alignment software package. When utilizing the ALIGN program for comparing amino acid sequences, a PAM120 weight residue table, a gap length penalty of 12, and a gap penalty of 4 can be used. Yet another useful algorithm for identifying regions of local sequence similarity and alignment is the FASTA algorithm as described in Pearson and Lipman (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. USA 85:2444-2448. When using the FASTA algorithm for comparing nucleotide or amino acid sequences, a PAM120 weight residue table can, for example, be used with a .kappa.-tuple value of 2.

[0193] The percent identity between two sequences can be determined using techniques similar to those described above, with or without allowing gaps. In calculating percent identity, only exact matches are counted.

[0194] The invention also provides chimeric or fusion proteins corresponding to a marker gene of the invention. As used herein, a "chimeric protein" or "fusion protein" comprises all or part (preferably a biologically active part) of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention operably linked to a heterologous polypeptide (i.e., a polypeptide other than the polypeptide encoded by the marker gene). Within the fusion protein, the term "operably linked" is intended to indicate that the polypeptide of the invention and the heterologous polypeptide are fused in-frame to each other. The heterologous polypeptide can be fused to the amino-terminus or the carboxyl-terminus of the polypeptide of the invention.

[0195] One useful fusion protein is a GST fusion protein in which a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention is fused to the carboxyl terminus of GST sequences. Such fusion proteins can facilitate the purification of a recombinant polypeptide of the invention.

[0196] In another embodiment, the fusion protein contains a heterologous signal sequence at its amino terminus. For example, the native signal sequence of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention can be removed and replaced with a signal sequence from another protein. For example, the gp67 secretory sequence of the baculovirus envelope protein can be used as a heterologous signal sequence (Ausubel et al., ed., Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, John Wiley & Sons, NY, 1992). Other examples of eukaryotic heterologous signal sequences include the secretory sequences of melittin and human placental alkaline phosphatase (Stratagene; La Jolla, Calif.). In yet another example, useful prokaryotic heterologous signal sequences include the phoA secretory signal (Sambrook et al., supra) and the protein A secretory signal (Pharmacia Biotech; Piscataway, N.J.).

[0197] In yet another embodiment, the fusion protein is an immunoglobulin fusion protein in which all or part of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention is fused to sequences derived from a member of the immunoglobulin protein family. The immunoglobulin fusion proteins of the invention can be incorporated into pharmaceutical compositions and administered to a subject to inhibit an interaction between a ligand (soluble or membrane-bound) and a protein on the surface of a cell (receptor), to thereby suppress signal transduction in vivo. The immunoglobulin fusion protein can be used to affect the bioavailability of a cognate ligand of a polypeptide of the invention. Inhibition of ligand/receptor interaction can be useful therapeutically, both for treating proliferative and differentiative disorders and for modulating (e.g. promoting or inhibiting) cell survival. Moreover, the immunoglobulin fusion proteins of the invention can be used as immunogens to produce antibodies directed against a polypeptide of the invention in a subject, to purify ligands and in screening assays to identify molecules which inhibit the interaction of receptors with ligands.

[0198] Chimeric and fusion proteins of the invention can be produced by standard recombinant DNA techniques. In another embodiment, the fusion gene can be synthesized by conventional techniques including automated DNA synthesizers. Alternatively, PCR amplification of gene fragments can be carried out using anchor primers which give rise to complementary overhangs between two consecutive gene fragments which can subsequently be annealed and re-amplified to generate a chimeric gene sequence (see, e.g., Ausubel et al., supra). Moreover, many expression vectors are commercially available that already encode a fusion moiety (e.g., a GST polypeptide). A nucleic acid encoding a polypeptide of the invention can be cloned into such an expression vector such that the fusion moiety is linked in-frame to the polypeptide of the invention.

[0199] A signal sequence can be used to facilitate secretion and isolation of the secreted protein or other proteins of interest. Signal sequences are typically characterized by a core of hydrophobic amino acids which are generally cleaved from the mature protein during secretion in one or more cleavage events. Such signal peptides contain processing sites that allow cleavage of the signal sequence from the mature proteins as they pass through the secretory pathway. Thus, the invention pertains to the described polypeptides having a signal sequence, as well as to polypeptides from which the signal sequence has been proteolytically cleaved (i.e., the cleavage products). In one embodiment, a nucleic acid sequence encoding a signal sequence can be operably linked in an expression vector to a protein of interest, such as a protein which is ordinarily not secreted or is otherwise difficult to isolate. The signal sequence directs secretion of the protein, such as from a eukaryotic host into which the expression vector is transformed, and the signal sequence is subsequently or concurrently cleaved. The protein can then be readily purified from the extracellular medium by art recognized methods. Alternatively, the signal sequence can be linked to the protein of interest using a sequence which facilitates purification, such as with a GST domain.

[0200] The present invention also pertains to variants of the polypeptides encoded by individual marker genes of the invention. Such variants have an altered amino acid sequence which can function as either agonists (mimetics) or as antagonists. Variants can be generated by mutagenesis, e.g., discrete point mutation or truncation. An agonist can retain substantially the same, or a subset, of the biological activities of the naturally occurring form of the protein. An antagonist of a protein can inhibit one or more of the activities of the naturally occurring form of the protein by, for example, competitively binding to a downstream or upstream member of a cellular signaling cascade which includes the protein of interest. Thus, specific biological effects can be elicited by treatment with a variant of limited function. Treatment of a subject with a variant having a subset of the biological activities of the naturally occurring form of the protein can have fewer side effects in a subject relative to treatment with the naturally occurring form of the protein.

[0201] Variants of a protein of the invention which function as either agonists (mimetics) or as antagonists can be identified by screening combinatorial libraries of mutants, e.g., truncation mutants, of the protein of the invention for agonist or antagonist activity. In one embodiment, a variegated library of variants is generated by combinatorial mutagenesis at the nucleic acid level and is encoded by a variegated gene library. A variegated library of variants can be produced by, for example, enzymatically ligating a mixture of synthetic oligonucleotides into gene sequences such that a degenerate set of potential protein sequences is expressible as individual polypeptides, or alternatively, as a set of larger fusion proteins (e.g., for phage display). There are a variety of methods which can be used to produce libraries of potential variants of the polypeptides of the invention from a degenerate oligonucleotide sequence. Methods for synthesizing degenerate oligonucleotides are known in the art (see, e.g., Narang, 1983, Tetrahedron 39:3; Itakura et al., 1984, Annu. Rev. Biochem. 53:323; Itakura et al., 1984, Science 198:1056; Ike et al., 1983 Nucleic Acid Res. 11:477).

[0202] In addition, libraries of fragments of the coding sequence of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention can be used to generate a variegated population of polypeptides for screening and subsequent selection of variants. For example, a library of coding sequence fragments can be generated by treating a double stranded PCR fragment of the coding sequence of interest with a nuclease under conditions wherein nicking occurs only about once per molecule, denaturing the double stranded DNA, renaturing the DNA to form double stranded DNA which can include sense/antisense pairs from different nicked products, removing single stranded portions from reformed duplexes by treatment with S1 nuclease, and ligating the resulting fragment library into an expression vector. By this method, an expression library can be derived which encodes amino terminal and internal fragments of various sizes of the protein of interest.

[0203] Several techniques are known in the art for screening gene products of combinatorial libraries made by point mutations or truncation, and for screening cDNA libraries for gene products having a selected property. The most widely used techniques, which are amenable to high through-put analysis, for screening large gene libraries typically include cloning the gene library into replicable expression vectors, transforming appropriate cells with the resulting library of vectors, and expressing the combinatorial genes under conditions in which detection of a desired activity facilitates isolation of the vector encoding the gene whose product was detected. Recursive ensemble mutagenesis (REM), a technique which enhances the frequency of functional mutants in the libraries, can be used in combination with the screening assays to identify variants of a protein of the invention (Arkin and Yourvan, 1992, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:7811-7815; Delgrave et al., 1993, Protein Engineering 6(3):327-331).

[0204] An isolated polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention, or a fragment thereof, can be used as an immunogen to generate antibodies using standard techniques for polyclonal and monoclonal antibody preparation. The full-length polypeptide or protein can be used or, alternatively, the invention provides antigenic peptide fragments for use as immunogens. The antigenic peptide of a protein of the invention comprises at least 8 (preferably 10, 15, 20, or 30 or more) amino acid residues of the amino acid sequence of one of the polypeptides of the invention, and encompasses an epitope of the protein such that an antibody raised against the peptide forms a specific immune complex with a protein encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Preferred epitopes encompassed by the antigenic peptide are regions that are located on the surface of the protein, e.g., hydrophilic regions. Hydrophobicity sequence analysis, hydrophilicity sequence analysis, or similar analyses can be used to identify hydrophilic regions.

[0205] An immunogen typically is used to prepare antibodies by immunizing a suitable (i.e. immunocompetent) subject such as a rabbit, goat, mouse, or other mammal or vertebrate. An appropriate immunogenic preparation can contain, for example, recombinantly-expressed or chemically-synthesized polypeptide. The preparation can further include an adjuvant, such as Freund's complete or incomplete adjuvant, or a similar immunostimulatory agent.

[0206] Accordingly, another aspect of the invention pertains to antibodies directed against a polypeptide of the invention. The terms "antibody" and "antibody substance" as used interchangeably herein refer to immunoglobulin molecules and immunologically active portions of immunoglobulin molecules, i.e., molecules that contain an antigen binding site which specifically binds an antigen, such as a polypeptide of the invention, e.g., an epitope of a polypeptide of the invention. A molecule which specifically binds to a given polypeptide of the invention is a molecule which binds the polypeptide, but does not substantially bind other molecules in a sample, e.g., a biological sample, which naturally contains the polypeptide. Examples of immunologically active portions of immunoglobulin molecules include F(ab) and F(ab').sub.2 fragments which can be generated by treating the antibody with an enzyme such as pepsin. The invention provides polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. The term "monoclonal antibody" or "monoclonal antibody composition", as used herein, refers to a population of antibody molecules that contain only one species of an antigen binding site capable of immunoreacting with a particular epitope.

[0207] Polyclonal antibodies can be prepared as described above by immunizing a suitable subject with a polypeptide of the invention as an immunogen. Preferred polyclonal antibody compositions are ones that have been selected for antibodies directed against a polypeptide or polypeptides of the invention. Particularly preferred polyclonal antibody preparations are ones that contain only antibodies directed against a polypeptide or polypeptides of the invention. Particularly preferred immunogen compositions are those that contain no other human proteins such as, for example, immunogen compositions made using a non-human host cell for recombinant expression of a polypeptide of the invention. In such a manner, the only human epitope or epitopes recognized by the resulting antibody compositions raised against this immunogen will be present as part of a polypeptide or polypeptides of the invention.

[0208] The antibody titer in the immunized subject can be monitored over time by standard techniques, such as with an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using immobilized polypeptide. If desired, the antibody molecules can be harvested or isolated from the subject (e.g., from the blood or serum of the subject) and further purified by well-known techniques, such as protein A chromatography to obtain the IgG fraction. Alternatively, antibodies specific for a protein or polypeptide of the invention can be selected or (e.g., partially purified) or purified by, e.g., affinity chromatography. For example, a recombinantly expressed and purified (or partially purified) protein of the invention is produced as described herein, and covalently or non-covalently coupled to a solid support such as, for example, a chromatography column. The column can then be used to affinity purify antibodies specific for the proteins of the invention from a sample containing antibodies directed against a large number of different epitopes, thereby generating a substantially purified antibody composition, i.e., one that is substantially free of contaminating antibodies. By a substantially purified antibody composition is meant, in this context, that the antibody sample contains at most only 30% (by dry weight) of contaminating antibodies directed against epitopes other than those of the desired protein or polypeptide of the invention, and preferably at most 20%, yet more preferably at most 10%, and most preferably at most 5% (by dry weight) of the sample is contaminating antibodies. A purified antibody composition means that at least 99% of the antibodies in the composition are directed against the desired protein or polypeptide of the invention.

[0209] At an appropriate time after immunization, e.g., when the specific antibody titers are highest, antibody-producing cells can be obtained from the subject and used to prepare monoclonal antibodies by standard techniques, such as the hybridoma technique originally described by Kohler and Milstein (1975) Nature 256:495-497, the human B cell hybridoma technique (see Kozbor et al., 1983, Immunol. Today 4:72), the EBV-hybridoma technique (see Cole et al., pp. 77-96 In Monoclonal Antibodies and Cancer Therapy, Alan R. Liss, Inc., 1985) or trioma techniques. The technology for producing hybridomas is well known (see generally Current Protocols in Immunology, Coligan et al. ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1994). Hybridoma cells producing a monoclonal antibody of the invention are detected by screening the hybridoma culture supernatants for antibodies that bind the polypeptide of interest, e.g., using a standard ELISA assay.

[0210] Alternative to preparing monoclonal antibody-secreting hybridomas, a monoclonal antibody directed against a polypeptide of the invention can be identified and isolated by screening a recombinant combinatorial immunoglobulin library (e.g., an antibody phage display library) with the polypeptide of interest. Kits for generating and screening phage display libraries are commercially available (e.g., the Pharmacia Recombinant Phage Antibody System, Catalog No. 27-9400-01; and the Stratagene SurfZAP Phage Display Kit, Catalog No. 240612). Additionally, examples of methods and reagents particularly amenable for use in generating and screening antibody display library can be found in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,223,409; PCT Publication No. WO 92/18619; PCT Publication No. WO 91/17271; PCT Publication No. WO 92/20791; PCT Publication No. WO 92/15679; PCT Publication No. WO 93/01288; PCT Publication No. WO 92/01047; PCT Publication No. WO 92/09690; PCT Publication No. WO 90/02809; Fuchs et al. (1991) Bio/Technology 9:1370-1372; Hay et al. (1992) Hum. Antibod. Hybridomas 3:81-85; Huse et al. (1989) Science 246:1275-1281; Griffiths et al. (1993) EMBO J. 12:725-734.

[0211] Additionally, recombinant antibodies, such as chimeric and humanized monoclonal antibodies, comprising both human and non-human portions, which can be made using standard recombinant DNA techniques, are within the scope of the invention. A chimeric antibody is a molecule in which different portions are derived from different animal species, such as those having a variable region derived from a murine mAb and a human immunoglobulin constant region. (See, e.g., Cabilly et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,567; and Boss et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,397, which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.) Humanized antibodies are antibody molecules from non-human species having one or more complementarily determining regions (CDRs) from the non-human species and a framework region from a human immunoglobulin molecule. (See, e.g., Queen, U.S. Pat. No. 5,585,089, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.) Such chimeric and humanized monoclonal antibodies can be produced by recombinant DNA techniques known in the art, for example using methods described in PCT Publication No. WO 87/02671; European Patent Application 184,187; European Patent Application 171,496; European Patent Application 173,494; PCT Publication No. WO 86/01533; U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,567; European Patent Application 125,023; Better et al. (1988) Science 240:1041-1043; Liu et al. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84:3439-3443; Liu et al. (1987) J. Immunol. 139:3521-3526; Sun et al. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84:214-218; Nishimura et al. (1987) Cancer Res. 47:999-1005; Wood et al. (1985) Nature 314:446-449; and Shaw et al. (1988) J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 80:1553-1559); Morrison (1985) Science 229:1202-1207; Oi et al. (1986) Bio/Techniques 4:214; U.S. Pat. No. 5,225,539; Jones et al. (1986) Nature 321:552-525; Verhoeyan et al. (1988) Science 239:1534; and Beidler et al. (1988) J. Immunol. 141:4053-4060.

[0212] Antibodies of the invention may be used as therapeutic agents in treating cancers. In a preferred embodiment, completely human antibodies of the invention are used for therapeutic treatment of human cancer patients, particularly those having breast cancer. Such antibodies can be produced, for example, using transgenic mice which are incapable of expressing endogenous immunoglobulin heavy and light chains genes, but which can express human heavy and light chain genes. The transgenic mice are immunized in the normal fashion with a selected antigen, e.g., all or a portion of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Monoclonal antibodies directed against the antigen can be obtained using conventional hybridoma technology. The human immunoglobulin transgenes harbored by the transgenic mice rearrange during B cell differentiation, and subsequently undergo class switching and somatic mutation. Thus, using such a technique, it is possible to produce therapeutically useful IgG, IgA and IgE antibodies. For an overview of this technology for producing human antibodies, see Lonberg and Huszar (1995) Int. Rev. Immunol. 13:65-93). For a detailed discussion of this technology for producing human antibodies and human monoclonal antibodies and protocols for producing such antibodies, see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,625,126; U.S. Pat. No. 5,633,425; U.S. Pat. No. 5,569,825; U.S. Pat. No. 5,661,016; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,545,806. In addition, companies such as Abgenix, Inc. (Freemont, Calif.), can be engaged to provide human antibodies directed against a selected antigen using technology similar to that described above.

[0213] Completely human antibodies which recognize a selected epitope can be generated using a technique referred to as "guided selection." In this approach a selected non-human monoclonal antibody, e.g., a murine antibody, is used to guide the selection of a completely human antibody recognizing the same epitope (Jespers et al., 1994, Bio/technology 12:899-903).

[0214] An antibody directed against a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention (e.g., a monoclonal antibody) can be used to isolate the polypeptide by standard techniques, such as affinity chromatography or immunoprecipitation. Moreover, such an antibody can be used to detect the polypeptide (e.g., in a cellular lysate or cell supernatant) in order to evaluate the level and pattern of expression of the marker gene. The antibodies can also be used diagnostically to monitor protein levels in tissues or body fluids (e.g in an ovary-associated body fluid) as part of a clinical testing procedure, e.g., to, for example, determine the efficacy of a given treatment regimen. Detection can be facilitated by coupling the antibody to a detectable substance. Examples of detectable substances include various enzymes, prosthetic groups, fluorescent materials, luminescent materials, bioluminescent materials, and radioactive materials. Examples of suitable enzymes include horseradish peroxidase, alkaline phosphatase, .beta.-galactosidase, or acetylcholinesterase; examples of suitable prosthetic group complexes include streptavidin/biotin and avidin/biotin; examples of suitable fluorescent materials include umbelliferone, fluorescein, fluorescein isothiocyanate, rhodamine, dichlorotriazinylamine fluorescein, dansyl chloride or phycoerythrin; an example of a luminescent material includes luminol; examples of bioluminescent materials include luciferase, luciferin, and aequorin, and examples of suitable radioactive material include .sup.125I, .sup.131I, .sup.35S or .sup.3H.

[0215] Further, an antibody (or fragment thereof) can be conjugated to a therapeutic moiety such as a cytotoxin, a therapeutic agent or a radioactive metal ion. A cytotoxin or cytotoxic agent includes any agent that is detrimental to cells. Examples include taxol, cytochalasin B, gramicidin D, ethidium bromide, emetine, mitomycin, etoposide, tenoposide, vincristine, vinblastine, colchicin, doxorubicin, daunorubicin, dihydroxy anthracin dione, mitoxantrone, mithramycin, actinomycin D, 1-dehydrotestosterone, glucocorticoids, procaine, tetracaine, lidocaine, propranolol, and puromycin and analogs or homologs thereof. Therapeutic agents include, but are not limited to, antimetabolites (e.g., methotrexate, 6-mercaptopurine, 6-thioguanine, cytarabine, 5-fluorouracil decarbazine), alkylating agents (e.g., mechlorethamine, thioepa chlorambucil, melphalan, carmustine (BSNU) and lomustine (CCNU), cyclothosphamide, busulfan, dibromomannitol, streptozotocin, mitomycin C, and cis-dichlorodiamine platinum (II) (DDP) cisplatin), anthracyclines (e.g., daunorubicin (formerly daunomycin) and doxorubicin), antibiotics (e.g., dactinomycin (formerly actinomycin), bleomycin, mithramycin, and anthramycin (AMC)), and anti-mitotic agents (e.g., vincristine and vinblastine).

[0216] The conjugates of the invention can be used for modifying a given biological response, the drug moiety is not to be construed as limited to classical chemical therapeutic agents. For example, the drug moiety may be a protein or polypeptide possessing a desired biological activity. Such proteins may include, for example, a toxin such as abrin, ricin A, pseudomonas exotoxin, or diphtheria toxin; a protein such as tumor necrosis factor, .alpha.-interferon, .beta.-interferon, nerve growth factor, platelet derived growth factor, tissue plasminogen activator; or, biological response modifiers such as, for example, lymphokines, interleukin-1 ("IL-1"), interleukin-2 ("IL-2"), interleukin-6 ("IL-6"), granulocyte macrophase colony stimulating factor ("GM-CSF"), granulocyte colony stimulating factor ("G-CSF"), or other growth factors.

[0217] Techniques for conjugating such therapeutic moiety to antibodies are well known, see, e.g., Arnon et al., "Monoclonal Antibodies For Immunotargeting Of Drugs In Cancer Therapy", in Monoclonal Antibodies And Cancer Therapy, Reisfeld et al. (eds.), pp. 243-56 (Alan R. Liss, Inc. 1985); Hellstrom et al., "Antibodies For Drug Delivery", in Controlled Drug Delivery (2nd Ed.), Robinson et al. (eds.), pp. 623-53 (Marcel Dekker, Inc. 1987); Thorpe, "Antibody Carriers Of Cytotoxic Agents In Cancer Therapy: A Review", in Monoclonal Antibodies '84: Biological And Clinical Applications, Pinchera et al. (eds.), pp. 475-506 (1985); "Analysis, Results, And Future Prospective Of The Therapeutic Use Of Radiolabeled Antibody In Cancer Therapy", in Monoclonal Antibodies For Cancer Detection And Therapy, Baldwin et al. (eds.), pp. 303-16 (Academic Press 1985), and Thorpe et al., "The Preparation And Cytotoxic Properties Of Antibody-Toxin Conjugates", Immunol. Rev., 62:119-58 (1982).

[0218] Alternatively, an antibody can be conjugated to a second antibody to form an antibody heteroconjugate as described by Segal in U.S. Pat. No. 4,676,980.

[0219] Accordingly, in one aspect, the invention provides substantially purified antibodies or fragments thereof, and non-human antibodies or fragments thereof, which antibodies or fragments specifically bind to a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of the amino acid sequences of the present invention, an amino acid sequence encoded by the cDNA of the present invention, a fragment of at least 15 amino acid residues of an amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence which is at least 95% identical to the amino acid sequence of the present invention (wherein the percent identity is determined using the ALIGN program of the GCG software package with a PAM120 weight residue table, a gap length penalty of 12, and a gap penalty of 4) and an amino acid sequence which is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule which hybridizes to a nucleic acid molecule consisting of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, or a complement thereof, under conditions of hybridization of 6.times.SSC at 45.degree. C. and washing in 0.2.times.SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65.degree. C. In various embodiments, the substantially purified antibodies of the invention, or fragments thereof, can be human, non-human, chimeric and/or humanized antibodies.

[0220] In another aspect, the invention provides non-human antibodies or fragments thereof, which antibodies or fragments specifically bind to a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: the amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence encoded by the cDNA of the present invention, a fragment of at least 15 amino acid residues of the amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence which is at least 95% identical to the amino acid sequence of the present invention (wherein the percent identity is determined using the ALIGN program of the GCG software package with a PAM120 weight residue table, a gap length penalty of 12, and a gap penalty of 4) and an amino acid sequence which is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule which hybridizes to a nucleic acid molecule consisting of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, or a complement thereof, under conditions of hybridization of 6.times.SSC at 45.degree. C. and washing in 0.2.times.SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65.degree. C. Such non-human antibodies can be goat, mouse, sheep, horse, chicken, rabbit, or rat antibodies. Alternatively, the non-human antibodies of the invention can be chimeric and/or humanized antibodies. In addition, the non-human antibodies of the invention can be polyclonal antibodies or monoclonal antibodies.

[0221] In still a further aspect, the invention provides monoclonal antibodies or fragments thereof, which antibodies or fragments specifically bind to a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of the amino acid sequences of the present invention, an amino acid sequence encoded by the cDNA of the present invention, a fragment of at least 15 amino acid residues of an amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence which is at least 95% identical to an amino acid sequence of the present invention (wherein the percent identity is determined using the ALIGN program of the GCG software package with a PAM120 weight residue table, a gap length penalty of 12, and a gap penalty of 4) and an amino acid sequence which is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule which hybridizes to a nucleic acid molecule consisting of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, or a complement thereof, under conditions of hybridization of 6.times.SSC at 45.degree. C. and washing in 0.2.times.SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65.degree. C. The monoclonal antibodies can be human, humanized, chimeric and/or non-human antibodies.

[0222] The substantially purified antibodies or fragments thereof may specifically bind to a signal peptide, a secreted sequence, an extracellular domain, a transmembrane or a cytoplasmic domain or cytoplasmic membrane of a polypeptide of the invention. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the substantially purified antibodies or fragments thereof, the non-human antibodies or fragments thereof, and/or the monoclonal antibodies or fragments thereof, of the invention specifically bind to a secreted sequence or an extracellular domain of the amino acid sequences of the present invention.

[0223] Any of the antibodies of the invention can be conjugated to a therapeutic moiety or to a detectable substance. Non-limiting examples of detectable substances that can be conjugated to the antibodies of the invention are an enzyme, a prosthetic group, a fluorescent material, a luminescent material, a bioluminescent material, and a radioactive material.

[0224] The invention also provides a kit containing an antibody of the invention conjugated to a detectable substance, and instructions for use. Still another aspect of the invention is a pharmaceutical composition comprising an antibody of the invention and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. In preferred embodiments, the pharmaceutical composition contains an antibody of the invention, a therapeutic moiety, and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.

[0225] Still another aspect of the invention is a method of making an antibody that specifically recognizes a polypeptide of the present invention, the method comprising immunizing a mammal with a polypeptide. The polypeptide used as an immunogen comprises an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of the amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence encoded by the cDNA of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, a fragment of at least 15 amino acid residues of the amino acid sequence of the present invention, an amino acid sequence which is at least 95% identical to the amino acid sequence of the present invention (wherein the percent identity is determined using the ALIGN program of the GCG software package with a PAM120 weight residue table, a gap length penalty of 12, and a gap penalty of 4) and an amino acid sequence which is encoded by a nucleic acid molecule which hybridizes to a nucleic acid molecule consisting of the nucleic acid molecules of the present invention, or a complement thereof, under conditions of hybridization of 6.times.SSC at 45.degree. C. and washing in 0.2.times.SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65.degree. C.

[0226] After immunization, a sample is collected from the mammal that contains an antibody that specifically recognizes the polypeptide. Preferably, the polypeptide is recombinantly produced using a non-human host cell. Optionally, the antibodies can be further purified from the sample using techniques well known to those of skill in the art. The method can further comprise producing a monoclonal antibody- producing cell from the cells of the mammal. Optionally, antibodies are collected from the antibody-producing cell.

[0227] III. Recombinant Expression Vectors and Host Cells

[0228] Another aspect of the invention pertains to vectors, preferably expression vectors, containing a nucleic acid encoding a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention (or a portion of such a polypeptide). As used herein, the term "vector" refers to a nucleic acid molecule capable of transporting another nucleic acid to which it has been linked. One type of vector is a "plasmid", which refers to a circular double stranded DNA loop into which additional DNA segments can be ligated. Another type of vector is a viral vector, wherein additional DNA segments can be ligated into the viral genome. Certain vectors are capable of autonomous replication in a host cell into which they are introduced (e.g., bacterial vectors having a bacterial origin of replication and episomal mammalian vectors). Other vectors (e.g., non-episomal mammalian vectors) are integrated into the genome of a host cell upon introduction into the host cell, and thereby are replicated along with the host genome. Moreover, certain vectors, namely expression vectors, are capable of directing the expression of genes to which they are operably linked. In general, expression vectors of utility in recombinant DNA techniques are often in the form of plasmids (vectors). However, the invention is intended to include such other forms of expression vectors, such as viral vectors (e.g., replication defective retroviruses, adenoviruses and adeno-associated viruses), which serve equivalent functions.

[0229] The recombinant expression vectors of the invention comprise a nucleic acid of the invention in a form suitable for expression of the nucleic acid in a host cell. This means that the recombinant expression vectors include one or more regulatory sequences, selected on the basis of the host cells to be used for expression, which is operably linked to the nucleic acid sequence to be expressed. Within a recombinant expression vector, "operably linked" is intended to mean that the nucleotide sequence of interest is linked to the regulatory sequence(s) in a manner which allows for expression of the nucleotide sequence (e.g., in an in vitro transcription/translation system or in a host cell when the vector is introduced into the host cell). The term "regulatory sequence" is intended to include promoters, enhancers and other expression control elements (e.g., polyadenylation signals). Such regulatory sequences are described, for example, in Goeddel, Methods in Enzymology: Gene Expression Technology vol. 185, Academic Press, San Diego, Calif. (1991). Regulatory sequences include those which direct constitutive expression of a nucleotide sequence in many types of host cell and those which direct expression of the nucleotide sequence only in certain host cells (e.g., tissue-specific regulatory sequences). It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the design of the expression vector can depend on such factors as the choice of the host cell to be transformed, the level of expression of protein desired, and the like. The expression vectors of the invention can be introduced into host cells to thereby produce proteins or peptides, including fusion proteins or peptides, encoded by nucleic acids as described herein.

[0230] The recombinant expression vectors of the invention can be designed for expression of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention in prokaryotic (e.g., E. coli) or eukaryotic cells (e.g., insect cells {using baculovirus expression vectors}, yeast cells or mammalian cells). Suitable host cells are discussed further in Goeddel, supra. Alternatively, the recombinant expression vector can be transcribed and translated in vitro, for example using T7 promoter regulatory sequences and T7 polymerase.

[0231] Expression of proteins in prokaryotes is most often carried out in E. coli with vectors containing constitutive or inducible promoters directing the expression of either fusion or non-fusion proteins. Fusion vectors add a number of amino acids to a protein encoded therein, usually to the amino terminus of the recombinant protein. Such fusion vectors typically serve three purposes: 1) to increase expression of recombinant protein; 2) to increase the solubility of the recombinant protein; and 3) to aid in the purification of the recombinant protein by acting as a ligand in affinity purification. Often, in fusion expression vectors, a proteolytic cleavage site is introduced at the junction of the fusion moiety and the recombinant protein to enable separation of the recombinant protein from the fusion moiety subsequent to purification of the fusion protein. Such enzymes, and their cognate recognition sequences, include Factor Xa, thrombin and enterokinase. Typical fusion expression vectors include pGEX (Pharmacia Biotech Inc; Smith and Johnson, 1988, Gene 67:31-40), pMAL (New England Biolabs, Beverly, Mass.) and pRIT5 (Pharmacia, Piscataway, N.J.) which fuse glutathione S-transferase (GST), maltose E binding protein, or protein A, respectively, to the target recombinant protein.

[0232] Examples of suitable inducible non-fusion E. coli expression vectors include pTrc (Amann et al., 1988, Gene 69:301-315) and pET 11d (Studier et al., p. 60-89, In Gene Expression Technology: Methods in Enzymology vol. 185, Academic Press, San Diego, Calif., 1991). Target gene expression from the pTrc vector relies on host RNA polymerase transcription from a hybrid trp-lac fusion promoter. Target gene expression from the pET 11d vector relies on transcription from a T7 gn 10-lac fusion promoter mediated by a co-expressed viral RNA polymerase (T7 gn1). This viral polymerase is supplied by host strains BL21 (DE3) or HMS174(DE3) from a resident prophage harboring a T7 gn1 gene under the transcriptional control of the lacUV 5 promoter.

[0233] One strategy to maximize recombinant protein expression in E. coli is to express the protein in a host bacteria with an impaired capacity to proteolytically cleave the recombinant protein (Gottesman, p. 119-128, In Gene Expression Technology. Methods in Enzymology vol. 185, Academic Press, San Diego, Calif., 1990. Another strategy is to alter the nucleic acid sequence of the nucleic acid to be inserted into an expression vector so that the individual codons for each amino acid are those preferentially utilized in E. coli (Wada et al., 1992, Nucleic Acids Res. 20:2111-2118). Such alteration of nucleic acid sequences of the invention can be carried out by standard DNA synthesis techniques.

[0234] In another embodiment, the expression vector is a yeast expression vector. Examples of vectors for expression in yeast S. cerevisiae include pYepSec1 (Baldari et al., 1987, EMBO J. 6:229-234), pMFa (Kurjan and Herskowitz, 1982, Cell 30:933-943), pJRY88 (Schultz et al., 1987, Gene 54:113-123), pYES2 (Invitrogen Corporation, San Diego, Calif.), and pPicZ (Invitrogen Corp, San Diego, Calif.).

[0235] Alternatively, the expression vector is a baculovirus expression vector. Baculovirus vectors available for expression of proteins in cultured insect cells (e.g., Sf 9 cells) include the pAc series (Smith et al., 1983, Mol. Cell Biol. 3:2156-2165) and the pVL series (Lucklow and Summers, 1989, Virology 170:31-39).

[0236] In yet another embodiment, a nucleic acid of the invention is expressed in mammalian cells using a mammalian expression vector. Examples of mammalian expression vectors include pCDM8 (Seed, 1987, Nature 329:840) and pMT2NOPC (Kaufman et al., 1987, EMBO J. 6:187-195). When used in mammalian cells, the expression vector's control functions are often provided by viral regulatory elements. For example, commonly used promoters are derived from polyoma, Adenovirus 2, cytomegalovirus and Simian Virus 40. For other suitable expression systems for both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells see chapters 16 and 17 of Sambrook et al., supra.

[0237] In another embodiment, the recombinant mammalian expression vector is capable of directing expression of the nucleic acid preferentially in a particular cell type (e.g., tissue-specific regulatory elements are used to express the nucleic acid). Tissue-specific regulatory elements are known in the art. Non-limiting examples of suitable tissue-specific promoters include the albumin promoter (liver-specific; Pinkert et al., 1987, Genes Dev. 1:268-277), lymphoid-specific promoters (Calame and Eaton, 1988, Adv. Immunol. 43:235-275), in particular promoters of T cell receptors (Winoto and Baltimore, 1989, EMBO J. 8:729-733) and immunoglobulins (Banerji et al., 1983, Cell 33:729-740; Queen and Baltimore, 1983, Cell 33:741-748), neuron-specific promoters (e.g., the neurofilament promoter; Byrne and Ruddle, 1989, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:5473-5477), pancreas-specific promoters (Edlund et al., 1985, Science 230:912-916), and mammary gland-specific promoters (e.g., milk whey promoter; U.S. Pat. No. 4,873,316 and European Application Publication No. 264,166). Developmentally-regulated promoters are also encompassed, for example the murine hox promoters (Kessel and Gruss, 1990, Science 249:374-379) and the .alpha.-fetoprotein promoter (Camper and Tilghman, 1989, Genes Dev. 3:537-546).

[0238] The invention further provides a recombinant expression vector comprising a DNA molecule of the invention cloned into the expression vector in an antisense orientation. That is, the DNA molecule is operably linked to a regulatory sequence in a manner which allows for expression (by transcription of the DNA molecule) of an RNA molecule which is antisense to the mRNA encoding a polypeptide of the invention. Regulatory sequences operably linked to a nucleic acid cloned in the antisense orientation can be chosen which direct the continuous expression of the antisense RNA molecule in a variety of cell types, for instance viral promoters and/or enhancers, or regulatory sequences can be chosen which direct constitutive, tissue-specific or cell type specific expression of antisense RNA. The antisense expression vector can be in the form of a recombinant plasmid, phagemid, or attenuated virus in which antisense nucleic acids are produced under the control of a high efficiency regulatory region, the activity of which can be determined by the cell type into which the vector is introduced. For a discussion of the regulation of gene expression using antisense genes see Weintraub et al., 1986, Trends in Genetics, Vol. 1(1).

[0239] Another aspect of the invention pertains to host cells into which a recombinant expression vector of the invention has been introduced. The terms "host cell" and "recombinant host cell" are used interchangeably herein. It is understood that such terms refer not only to the particular subject cell but to the progeny or potential progeny of such a cell. Because certain modifications may occur in succeeding generations due to either mutation or environmental influences, such progeny may not, in fact, be identical to the parent cell, but are still included within the scope of the term as used herein.

[0240] A host cell can be any prokaryotic (e.g., E. coli) or eukaryotic cell (e.g., insect cells, yeast or mammalian cells).

[0241] Vector DNA can be introduced into prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells via conventional transformation or transfection techniques. As used herein, the terms "transformation" and "transfection" are intended to refer to a variety of art-recognized techniques for introducing foreign nucleic acid into a host cell, including calcium phosphate or calcium chloride co-precipitation, DEAE-dextran-mediated transfection, lipofection, or electroporation. Suitable methods for transforming or transfecting host cells can be found in Sambrook, et al. (supra), and other laboratory manuals.

[0242] For stable transfection of mammalian cells, it is known that, depending upon the expression vector and transfection technique used, only a small fraction of cells may integrate the foreign DNA into their genome. In order to identify and select these integrants, a gene that encodes a "selectable marker" (SM) gene (e.g., for resistance to antibiotics) is generally introduced into the host cells along with the gene of interest. Preferred SM genes include those which confer resistance to drugs, such as G418, hygromycin and methotrexate. Cells stably transfected with the introduced nucleic acid can be identified by drug selection (e.g., cells that have incorporated the SM gene will survive, while the other cells die).

[0243] A host cell of the invention, such as a prokaryotic or eukaryotic host cell in culture, can be used to produce a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Accordingly, the invention further provides methods for producing a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention using the host cells of the invention. In one embodiment, the method comprises culturing the host cell of invention (into which a recombinant expression vector encoding a polypeptide of the invention has been introduced) in a suitable medium such that the polypeptide encoded by the marker gene is produced. In another embodiment, the method further comprises isolating the polypeptide from the medium or the host cell.

[0244] The host cells of the invention can also be used to produce nonhuman transgenic animals. For example, in one embodiment, a host cell of the invention is a fertilized oocyte or an embryonic stem cell into which a sequences encoding a polypeptide of a marker gene of the invention have been introduced. Such host cells can then be used to create non-human transgenic animals in which exogenous sequences encoding a marker gene of the invention have been introduced into their genome or homologous recombinant animals in which endogenous gene(s) encoding a polypeptide corresponding to a marker gene of the invention have been altered. Such animals are useful for studying the function and/or activity of the polypeptide corresponding to the marker gene and for identifying and/or evaluating modulators of polypeptide activity. As used herein, a "transgenic animal" is a non-human animal, preferably a mammal, more preferably a rodent such as a rat or mouse, in which one or more of the cells of the animal includes a transgene. Other examples of transgenic animals include non-human primates, sheep, dogs, cows, goats, chickens, amphibians, etc. A transgene is exogenous DNA which is integrated into the genome of a cell from which a transgenic animal develops and which remains in the genome of the mature animal, thereby directing the expression of an encoded gene product in one or more cell types or tissues of the transgenic animal. As used herein, an "homologous recombinant animal" is a non-human animal, preferably a mammal, more preferably a mouse, in which an endogenous gene has been altered by homologous recombination between the endogenous gene and an exogenous DNA molecule introduced into a cell of the animal, e.g., an embryonic cell of the animal, prior to development of the animal.

[0245] A transgenic animal of the invention can be created by introducing a nucleic acid encoding a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention into the male pronuclei of a fertilized oocyte, e.g., by microinjection, retroviral infection, and allowing the oocyte to develop in a pseudopregnant female foster animal. Intronic sequences and polyadenylation signals can also be included in the transgene to increase the efficiency of expression of the transgene. A tissue-specific regulatory sequence(s) can be operably linked to the transgene to direct expression of the polypeptide of the invention to particular cells. Methods for generating transgenic animals via embryo manipulation and microinjection, particularly animals such as mice, have become conventional in the art and are described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,736,866 and 4,870,009, U.S. Pat. No. 4,873,191 and in Hogan, Manipulating the Mouse Embryo, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., 1986. Similar methods are used for production of other transgenic animals. A transgenic founder animal can be identified based upon the presence of the transgene in its genome and/or expression of mRNA encoding the transgene in tissues or cells of the animals. A transgenic founder animal can then be used to breed additional animals carrying the transgene. Moreover, transgenic animals carrying the transgene can further be bred to other transgenic animals carrying other transgenes.

[0246] To create an homologous recombinant animal, a vector is prepared which contains at least a portion of a marker gene of the invention into which a deletion, addition or substitution has been introduced to thereby alter, e.g., functionally disrupt, the gene. In a preferred embodiment, the vector is designed such that, upon homologous recombination, the endogenous gene is functionally disrupted (i.e., no longer encodes a functional protein; also referred to as a "knock out" vector). Alternatively, the vector can be designed such that, upon homologous recombination, the endogenous gene is mutated or otherwise altered but still encodes functional protein (e.g., the upstream regulatory region can be altered to thereby alter the expression of the endogenous protein). In the homologous recombination vector, the altered portion of the gene is flanked at its 5' and 3' ends by additional nucleic acid of the gene to allow for homologous recombination to occur between the exogenous gene carried by the vector and an endogenous gene in an embryonic stem cell. The additional flanking nucleic acid sequences are of sufficient length for successful homologous recombination with the endogenous gene. Typically, several kilobases of flanking DNA (both at the 5' and 3' ends) are included in the vector (see, e.g., Thomas and Capecchi, 1987, Cell 51:503 for a description of homologous recombination vectors). The vector is introduced into an embryonic stem cell line (e.g., by electroporation) and cells in which the introduced gene has homologously recombined with the endogenous gene are selected (see, e.g., Li et al., 1992, Cell 69:915). The selected cells are then injected into a blastocyst of an animal (e.g., a mouse) to form aggregation chimeras (see, e.g., Bradley, Teralocarcinomas and Embryonic Stem Cells. A Practical Approach, Robertson, Ed., IRL, Oxford, 1987, pp. 113-152). A chimeric embryo can then be implanted into a suitable pseudopregnant female foster animal and the embryo brought to term. Progeny harboring the homologously recombined DNA in their germ cells can be used to breed animals in which all cells of the animal contain the homologously recombined DNA by germline transmission of the transgene. Methods for constructing homologous recombination vectors and homologous recombinant animals are described further in Bradley (1991) Current Opinion in Bio/Technology 2:823-829 and in PCT Publication NOS. WO 90/11354, WO 91/01140, WO 92/0968, and WO 93/04169.

[0247] In another embodiment, transgenic non-human animals can be produced which contain selected systems which allow for regulated expression of the transgene. One example of such a system is the cre/loxP recombinase system of bacteriophage P1. For a description of the cre/loxP recombinase system, see, e.g, Lakso et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:6232-6236. Another example of a recombinase system is the FLP recombinase system of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (O'Gorman et al., 1991, Science 251:1351-1355). If a cre/loxP recombinase system is used to regulate expression of the transgene, animals containing transgenes encoding both the Cre recombinase and a selected protein are required. Such animals can be provided through the construction of "double" transgenic animals, e.g., by mating two transgenic animals, one containing a transgene encoding a selected protein and the other containing a transgene encoding a recombinase.

[0248] Clones of the non-human transgenic animals described herein can also be produced according to the methods described in Wilmut et al. (1997) Nature 385:810-813 and PCT Publication NOS. WO 97/07668 and WO 97/07669.

[0249] IV. Pharmaceutical Compositions

[0250] The nucleic acid molecules, polypeptides, and antibodies (also referred to herein as "active compounds") encoded by or corresponding to a marker gene of the invention can be incorporated into pharmaceutical compositions suitable for administration. Such compositions typically comprise the nucleic acid molecule, protein, or antibody and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. As used herein the language "pharmaceutically acceptable carrier" is intended to include any and all solvents, dispersion media, coatings, antibacterial and antifungal agents, isotonic and absorption delaying agents, and the like, compatible with pharmaceutical administration. The use of such media and agents for pharmaceutically active substances is well known in the art. Except insofar as any conventional media or agent is incompatible with the active compound, use thereof in the compositions is contemplated. Supplementary active compounds can also be incorporated into the compositions.

[0251] The invention includes methods for preparing pharmaceutical compositions for modulating the expression or activity of a polypeptide or nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Such methods comprise formulating a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier with an agent which modulates expression or activity of a polypeptide or nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene of the invention. Such compositions can further include additional active agents. Thus, the invention further includes methods for preparing a pharmaceutical composition by formulating a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier with an agent which modulates expression or activity of a polypeptide or nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene of the invention and one or more additional active compounds.

[0252] The invention also provides methods (also referred to herein as "screening assays") for identifying modulators, i.e., candidate or test compounds or agents (e.g., peptides, peptidomimetics, peptoids, small molecules or other drugs) which (a) bind to the marker gene or its gene products, or (b) have a modulatory (e.g., stimulatory or inhibitory) effect on the activity of the marker gene or, more specifically, (c) have a modulatory effect on the interactions of a protein encoded by the marker gene (hereinafter "marker protein") with one or more of its natural substrates (e.g., peptide, protein, hormone, co-factor, or nucleic acid), or (d) have a modulatory effect on the expression of the marker gene. Such assays typically comprise a reaction between the marker gene or the marker protein and one or more assay components. The other components may be either the test compound itself, or a combination of test compound and a natural binding partner of the marker protein.

[0253] The test compounds of the present invention may be obtained from any available source, including systematic libraries of natural and/or synthetic compounds. Test compounds may also be obtained by any of the numerous approaches in combinatorial library methods known in the art, including: biological libraries; peptoid libraries (libraries of molecules having the functionalities of peptides, but with a novel, non-peptide backbone which are resistant to enzymatic degradation but which nevertheless remain bioactive; see, e.g., Zuckermann et al., 1994, J. Med. Chem. 37:2678-85); spatially addressable parallel solid phase or solution phase libraries; synthetic library methods requiring deconvolution; the 'one-bead one-compound' library method; and synthetic library methods using affinity chromatography selection. The biological library and peptoid library approaches are limited to peptide libraries, while the other four approaches are applicable to peptide, non-peptide oligomer or small molecule libraries of compounds (Lam, 1997, Anticancer Drug Des. 12:145).

[0254] Examples of methods for the synthesis of molecular libraries can be found in the art, for example in: DeWitt et al. (1993) Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. U.S.A. 90:6909; Erb et al. (1994) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:11422; Zuckermann et al. (1994). J. Med. Chem. 37:2678; Cho etal. (1993) Science 261:1303; Carrell et al. (1994) Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 33:2059; Carell et al. (1994) Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 33:2061; and in Gallop et al. (1994) J Med. Chem. 37:1233.

[0255] Libraries of compounds may be presented in solution (e.g., Houghten, 1992, Biotechniques 13:412-421), or on beads (Lam, 1991, Nature 354:82-84), chips (Fodor, 1993, Nature 364:555-556), bacteria and/or spores, (Ladner, U.S. Pat. No. 5,223,409), plasmids (Cull et al, 1992, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89:1865-1869) or on phage (Scott and Smith, 1990, Science 249:386-390; Devlin, 1990, Science 249:404-406; Cwirla et al, 1990, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 87:6378-6382; Felici, 1991, J. Mol. Biol. 222:301-310; Ladner, supra.).

[0256] In one embodiment, the invention provides assays for screening candidate or test compounds which are substrates of the marker protein or biologically active portion thereof. In another embodiment, the invention provides assays for screening candidate or test compounds which bind to a marker protein or biologically active portion thereof. Determining the ability of the test compound to directly bind to a marker protein can be accomplished, for example, by coupling the compound with a radioisotope or enzymatic label such that binding of the compound to the marker protein can be determined by detecting the marker protein compound in a labeled complex. For example, compounds (e.g., substrates of the marker protein) can be labeled with .sup.125I, .sup.35S, .sup.14C, or .sup.3H, either directly or indirectly, and the radioisotope detected by direct counting of radioemission or by scintillation counting. Alternatively, assay components can be enzymatically labeled with, for example, horseradish peroxidase, alkaline phosphatase, or luciferase, and the enzymatic label detected by determination of conversion of an appropriate substrate to product.

[0257] In another embodiment, the invention provides assays for screening candidate or test compounds which modulate the activity of a marker protein or a biologically active portion thereof. In all likelihood, the marker protein can, in vivo, interact with one or more molecules, such as but not limited to, peptides, proteins, hormones, cofactors and nucleic acids. For the purposes of this discussion, such cellular and extracellular molecules are referred to herein as "binding partners" or marker protein "substrate". One necessary embodiment of the invention in order to facilitate such screening is the use of the marker protein to identify its natural in vivo binding partners. There are many ways to accomplish this which are known to one skilled in the art. One example is the use of the marker protein as "bait protein" in a two-hybrid assay or three-hybrid assay (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,283,317; Zervos et al, 1993, Cell 72:223-232; Madura et al, 1993, J. Biol. Chem. 268:12046-12054; Bartel et al ,1993, Biotechniques 14:920-924; Iwabuchi et al, 1993 Oncogene 8:1693-1696; Brent WO94/10300) in order to identify other proteins which bind to or interact with the marker protein (binding partners) and, therefore, are possibly involved in the natural function of the marker protein. Such marker protein binding partners are also likely to be involved in the propagation of signals by the marker protein or downstream elements of a marker gene-mediated signaling pathway. Alternatively, such marker protein binding partners may also be found to be inhibitors of the marker protein .

[0258] The two-hybrid system is based on the modular nature of most transcription factors, which consist of separable DNA-binding and activation domains. Briefly, the assay utilizes two different DNA constructs. In one construct, the gene that encodes a marker protein fused to a gene encoding the DNA binding domain of a known transcription factor (e.g., GAL-4). In the other construct, a DNA sequence, from a library of DNA sequences, that encodes an unidentified protein ("prey" or "sample") is fused to a gene that codes for the activation domain of the known transcription factor. If the "bait" and the "prey" proteins are able to interact, in vivo, forming a marker gene-dependent complex, the DNA-binding and activation domains of the transcription factor are brought into close proximity. This proximity allows transcription of a reporter gene (e.g., LacZ) which is operably linked to a transcriptional regulatory site responsive to the transcription factor. Expression of the reporter gene can be readily detected and cell colones containing the functional transcription factor can be isolated and used to obtain the cloned gene which encodes the protein which interacts with the marker protein.

[0259] In a further embodiment, assays may be devised through the use of the invention for the purpose of identifying compounds which modulate (e.g., affect either positively or negatively) interactions between a marker protein and its substrates and/or binding partners. Such compounds can include, but are not limited to, molecules such as antibodies, peptides, hormones, oligonucleotides, nucleic acids, and analogs thereof. Such compounds may also be obtained from any available source, including systematic libraries of natural and/or synthetic compounds. The preferred assay components for use in this embodiment is a marker protein identified herein (see Table 1), the known binding partner and/or substrate of same, and the test compound. Test compounds can be supplied from any source.

[0260] The basic principle of the assay systems used to identify compounds that interfere with the interaction between a marker protein and its binding partner involves preparing a reaction mixture containing the protein and its binding partner under conditions and for a time sufficient to allow the two products to interact and bind, thus forming a complex. In order to test an agent for inhibitory activity, the reaction mixture is prepared in the presence and absence of the test compound. The test compound can be initially included in the reaction mixture, or can be added at a time subsequent to the addition of the protein and its binding partner. Control reaction mixtures are incubated without the test compound or with a placebo. The formation of any complexes between the protein and its binding partner is then detected. The formation of a complex in the control reaction, but less or no such formation in the reaction mixture containing the test compound, indicates that the compound interferes with the interaction of the marker protein and its binding partner. Conversely, the formation of more complex in the presence of compound than in the control reaction indicates that the compound may enhance interaction of the marker protein and its binding partner.

[0261] The assay for compounds that interfere with the interaction of a marker protein with its binding partner may be conducted in a heterogeneous or homogeneous format. Heterogeneous assays involve anchoring either the marker protein or its binding partner onto a solid phase and detecting complexes anchored to the solid phase at the end of the reaction. In homogeneous assays, the entire reaction is carried out in a liquid phase. In either approach, the order of addition of reactants can be varied to obtain different information about the compounds being tested. For example, test compounds that interfere with the interaction between the marker protein and the binding partners (e.g., by competition) can be identified by conducting the reaction in the presence of the test substance, i.e., by adding the test substance to the reaction mixture prior to or simultaneously with the marker protein and its interactive binding partner. Alternatively, test compounds that disrupt preformed complexes, e.g., compounds with higher binding constants, that displace one of the components from the complex, can be tested by adding the test compound to the reaction mixture after complexes have been formed. The various formats are briefly described below.

[0262] In a heterogeneous assay system, either a marker protein or its binding partner is anchored onto a solid surface or matrix, while the other corresponding non-anchored component may be labeled, either directly or indirectly. In practice, microtitre plates are often utilized for this approach. The anchored species can be immobilized by a number of methods, either non-covalent or covalent, that are typically well known to one who practices the art. Non-covalent attachment can often be accomplished simply by coating the solid surface with a solution of the marker protein or its binding partner and drying. Alternatively, an immobilized antibody specific for the assay component to be anchored can be used for this purpose. Such surfaces can often be prepared in advance and stored.

[0263] In related embodiments, a fusion protein can be provided which adds a domain that allows one or both of the assay components to be anchored to a matrix. For example, glutathione-S-transferase/marker protein fusion proteins or glutathione-S-transferase/binding partner can be adsorbed onto glutathione sepharose beads (Sigma Chemical, St. Louis, Mo.) or glutathione derivatized microtiter plates, which are then combined with the test compound or the test compound and either the non-adsorbed marker protein or its binding partner, and the mixture incubated under conditions conducive to complex formation (e.g., physiological conditions). Following incubation, the beads or microtiter plate wells are washed to remove any unbound assay components, the immobilized complex assessed either directly or indirectly, for example, as described above. Alternatively, the complexes can be dissociated from the matrix, and the level of marker protein binding or activity determined using standard techniques.

[0264] Other techniques for immobilizing proteins on matrices can also be used in the screening assays of the invention. For example, either a marker protein or its binding partner can be immobilized utilizing conjugation of biotin and streptavidin. Biotinylated marker protein or target molecules can be prepared from biotin-NHS (N-hydroxy-succinimide) using techniques known in the art (e.g., biotinylation kit, Pierce Chemicals, Rockford, Ill.), and immobilized in the wells of streptavidin-coated 96 well plates (Pierce Chemical). In certain embodiments, the protein-immobilized surfaces can be prepared in advance and stored.

[0265] In order to conduct the assay, the corresponding partner of the immobilized assay component is exposed to the coated surface with or without the test compound. After the reaction is complete, unreacted assay components are removed (e.g., by washing) and any complexes formed will remain immobilized on the solid surface. The detection of complexes anchored on the solid surface can be accomplished in a number of ways. Where the non-immobilized component is pre-labeled, the detection of label immobilized on the surface indicates that complexes were formed. Where the non-immobilized component is not pre-labeled, an indirect label can be used to detect complexes anchored on the surface; e.g., using a labeled antibody specific for the initially non-immobilized species (the antibody, in turn, can be directly labeled or indirectly labeled with, e.g., a labeled anti-Ig antibody). Depending upon the order of addition of reaction components, test compounds which modulate (inhibit or enhance) complex formation or which disrupt preformed complexes can be detected.

[0266] In an alternate embodiment of the invention, a homogeneous assay may be used. This is typically a reaction, analogous to those mentioned above, which is conducted in a liquid phase in the presence or absence of the test compound. The formed complexes are then separated from unreacted components, and the amount of complex formed is determined. As mentioned for heterogeneous assay systems, the order of addition of reactants to the liquid phase can yield information about which test compounds modulate (inhibit or enhance) complex formation and which disrupt preformed complexes.

[0267] In such a homogeneous assay, the reaction products may be separated from unreacted assay components by any of a number of standard techniques, including but not limited to: differential centrifugation, chromatography, electrophoresis and immunoprecipitation. In differential centrifugation, complexes of molecules may be separated from uncomplexed molecules through a series of centrifugal steps, due to the different sedimentation equilibria of complexes based on their different sizes and densities (see, for example, Rivas, G., and Minton, A. P., Trends Biochem Sci 1993 August;18(8):284-7). Standard chromatographic techniques may also be utilized to separate complexed molecules from uncomplexed ones. For example, gel filtration chromatography separates molecules based on size, and through the utilization of an appropriate gel filtration resin in a column format, for example, the relatively larger complex may be separated from the relatively smaller uncomplexed components. Similarly, the relatively different charge properties of the complex as compared to the uncomplexed molecules may be exploited to differentially separate the complex from the remaining individual reactants, for example through the use of ion-exchange chromatography resins. Such resins and chromatographic techniques are well known to one skilled in the art (see, e.g., Heegaard, 1998, J Mol. Recognit. 11:141-148; Hage and Tweed, 1997, J. Chromatogr. B. Biomed. Sci. Appl., 699:499-525). Gel electrophoresis may also be employed to separate complexed molecules from unbound species (see, e.g., Ausubel et al (eds.), In: Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, J. Wiley & Sons, New York. 1999). In this technique, protein or nucleic acid complexes are separated based on size or charge, for example. In order to maintain the binding interaction during the electrophoretic process, nondenaturing gels in the absence of reducing agent are typically preferred, but conditions appropriate to the particular interactants will be well known to one skilled in the art. Immunoprecipitation is another common technique utilized for the isolation of a protein-protein complex from solution (see, e.g., Ausubel et al (eds.), In: Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, J. Wiley & Sons, New York. 1999). In this technique, all proteins binding to an antibody specific to one of the binding molecules are precipitated from solution by conjugating the antibody to a polymer bead that may be readily collected by centrifugation. The bound assay components are released from the beads (through a specific proteolysis event or other technique well known in the art which will not disturb the protein-protein interaction in the complex), and a second immunoprecipitation step is performed, this time utilizing antibodies specific for the correspondingly different interacting assay component. In this manner, only formed complexes should remain attached to the beads. Variations in complex formation in both the presence and the absence of a test compound can be compared, thus offering information about the ability of the compound to modulate interactions between the marker protein and its binding partner.

[0268] Also within the scope of the present invention are methods for direct detection of interactions between a marker protein and its natural binding partner and/or a test compound in a homogeneous or heterogeneous assay system without further sample manipulation. For example, the technique of fluorescence energy transfer may be utilized (see, e.g., Lakowicz et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,631,169; Stavrianopoulos et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,868,103). Generally, this technique involves the addition of a fluorophore label on a first `donor` molecule (e.g., test compound) such that its emitted fluorescent energy will be absorbed by a fluorescent label on a second, `acceptor` molecule (e.g., test compound), which in turn is able to fluoresce due to the absorbed energy. Alternately, the `donor` protein molecule may simply utilize the natural fluorescent energy of tryptophan residues. Labels are chosen that emit different wavelengths of light, such that the `acceptor` molecule label may be differentiated from that of the `donor`. Since the efficiency of energy transfer between the labels is related to the distance separating the molecules, spatial relationships between the molecules can be assessed. In a situation in which binding occurs between the molecules, the fluorescent emission of the `acceptor` molecule label in the assay should be maximal. An FET binding event can be conveniently measured through standard fluorometric detection means well known in the art (e.g., using a fluorimeter). A test substance which either enhances or hinders participation of one of the species in the preformed complex will result in the generation of a signal variant to that of background. In this way, test substances that modulate interactions between a marker protein and its binding partner can be identified in controlled assays.

[0269] In another embodiment, modulators of marker gene expression are identified in a method wherein a cell is contacted with a candidate compound and the expression of mRNA or protein encoded by a marker gene is determined. The level of expression of mRNA or protein in the presence of the candidate compound is compared to the level of expression of mRNA or protein in the absence of the candidate compound. The candidate compound can then be identified as a modulator of marker gene expression based on this comparison. For example, when expression of marker gene mRNA or protein is greater (statistically significantly greater) in the presence of the candidate compound than in its absence, the candidate compound is identified as a stimulator of marker gene expression. Conversely, when expression of marker gene mRNA or protein is less (statistically significantly less) in the presence of the candidate compound than in its absence, the candidate compound is identified as an inhibitor of marker gene expression. The level of marker gene expression in the cells can be determined by methods described herein for detecting marker gene mRNA or protein.

[0270] In another aspect, the invention pertains to a combination of two or more of the assays described herein. For example, a modulating agent can be identified using a cell-based or a cell free assay, and the ability of the agent to modulate the activity of a marker protein can be further confirmed in vivo, e.g., in a whole animal model for cellular transformation and/or tumorigenesis.

[0271] This invention further pertains to novel agents identified by the above-described screening assays. Accordingly, it is within the scope of this invention to further use an agent identified as described herein in an appropriate animal model. For example, an agent identified as described herein (e.g., a marker gene or marker protein modulating agent, an antisense marker gene nucleic acid molecule, an marker protein specific antibody, or an marker protein binding partner) can be used in an animal model to determine the efficacy, toxicity, or side effects of treatment with such an agent. Alternatively, an agent identified as described herein can be used in an animal model to determine the mechanism of action of such an agent. Furthermore, this invention pertains to uses of novel agents identified by the above-described screening assays for treatments as described herein.

[0272] It is understood that appropriate doses of small molecule agents and protein or polypeptide agents depends upon a number of factors within the knowledge of the ordinarily skilled physician, veterinarian, or researcher. The dose(s) of these agents will vary, for example, depending upon the identity, size, and condition of the subject or sample being treated, further depending upon the route by which the composition is to be administered, if applicable, and the effect which the practitioner desires the agent to have upon the nucleic acid or polypeptide of the invention. Exemplary doses of a small molecule include milligram or microgram amounts per kilogram of subject or sample weight (e.g. about 1 microgram per kilogram to about 500 milligrams per kilogram, about 100 micrograms per kilogram to about 5 milligrams per kilogram, or about 1 microgram per kilogram to about 50 micrograms per kilogram). Exemplary doses of a protein or polypeptide include gram, milligram or microgram amounts per kilogram of subject or sample weight (e.g about 1 microgram per kilogram to about 5 grams per kilogram, about 100 micrograms per kilogram to about 500 milligrams per kilogram, or about 1 milligram per kilogram to about 50 milligrams per kilogram). It is furthermore understood that appropriate doses of one of these agents depend upon the potency of the agent with respect to the expression or activity to be modulated. Such appropriate doses can be determined using the assays described herein. When one or more of these agents is to be administered to an animal (e.g. a human) in order to modulate expression or activity of a polypeptide or nucleic acid of the invention, a physician, veterinarian, or researcher can, for example, prescribe a relatively low dose at first, subsequently increasing the dose until an appropriate response is obtained. In addition, it is understood that the specific dose level for any particular animal subject will depend upon a variety of factors including the activity of the specific agent employed, the age, body weight, general health, gender, and diet of the subject, the time of administration, the route of administration, the rate of excretion, any drug combination, and the degree of expression or activity to be modulated.

[0273] A pharmaceutical composition of the invention is formulated to be compatible with its intended route of administration. Examples of routes of administration include parenteral, e.g., intravenous, intradermal, subcutaneous, oral (e.g., inhalation), transdermal (topical), transmucosal, and rectal administration. Solutions or suspensions used for parenteral, intradermal, or subcutaneous application can include the following components: a sterile diluent such as water for injection, saline solution, fixed oils, polyethylene glycols, glycerine, propylene glycol or other synthetic solvents; antibacterial agents such as benzyl alcohol or methyl parabens; antioxidants such as ascorbic acid or sodium bisulfite; chelating agents such as ethylenediamine-tetraacetic acid; buffers such as acetates, citrates or phosphates and agents for the adjustment of tonicity such as sodium chloride or dextrose. pH can be adjusted with acids or bases, such as hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide. The parenteral preparation can be enclosed in ampules, disposable syringes or multiple dose vials made of glass or plastic.

[0274] Pharmaceutical compositions suitable for injectable use include sterile aqueous solutions (where water soluble) or dispersions and sterile powders for the extemporaneous preparation of sterile injectable solutions or dispersions. For intravenous administration, suitable carriers include physiological saline, bacteriostatic water, Cremophor EL (BASF; Parsippany, N.J.) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). In all cases, the composition must be sterile and should be fluid to the extent that easy syringability exists. It must be stable under the conditions of manufacture and storage and must be preserved against the contaminating action of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The carrier can be a solvent or dispersion medium containing, for example, water, ethanol, polyol (for example, glycerol, propylene glycol, and liquid polyethylene glycol, and the like), and suitable mixtures thereof. The proper fluidity can be maintained, for example, by the use of a coating such as lecithin, by the maintenance of the required particle size in the case of dispersion and by the use of surfactants. Prevention of the action of microorganisms can be achieved by various antibacterial and antifungal agents, for example, parabens, chlorobutanol, phenol, ascorbic acid, thimerosal, and the like. In many cases, it will be preferable to include isotonic agents, for example, sugars, polyalcohols such as mannitol, sorbitol, or sodium chloride in the composition. Prolonged absorption of the injectable compositions can be brought about by including in the composition an agent which delays absorption, for example, aluminum monostearate and gelatin.

[0275] Sterile injectable solutions can be prepared by incorporating the active compound (e.g., a polypeptide or antibody) in the required amount in an appropriate solvent with one or a combination of ingredients enumerated above, as required, followed by filtered sterilization. Generally, dispersions are prepared by incorporating the active compound into a sterile vehicle which contains a basic dispersion medium, and then incorporating the required other ingredients from those enumerated above. In the case of sterile powders for the preparation of sterile injectable solutions, the preferred methods of preparation are vacuum drying and freeze-drying which yields a powder of the active ingredient plus any additional desired ingredient from a previously sterile-filtered solution thereof.

[0276] Oral compositions generally include an inert diluent or an edible carrier. They can be enclosed in gelatin capsules or compressed into tablets. For the purpose of oral therapeutic administration, the active compound can be incorporated with excipients and used in the form of tablets, troches, or capsules. Oral compositions can also be prepared using a fluid carrier for use as a mouthwash, wherein the compound in the fluid carrier is applied orally and swished and expectorated or swallowed.

[0277] Pharmaceutically compatible binding agents, and/or adjuvant materials can be included as part of the composition. The tablets, pills, capsules, troches, and the like can contain any of the following ingredients, or compounds of a similar nature: a binder such as microcrystalline cellulose, gum tragacanth or gelatin; an excipient such as starch or lactose, a disintegrating agent such as alginic acid, Primogel, or corn starch; a lubricant such as magnesium stearate or Sterotes; a glidant such as colloidal silicon dioxide; a sweetening agent such as sucrose or saccharin; or a flavoring agent such as peppermint, methyl salicylate, or orange flavoring.

[0278] For administration by inhalation, the compounds are delivered in the form of an aerosol spray from a pressurized container or dispenser which contains a suitable propellant, e.g., a gas such as carbon dioxide, or a nebulizer.

[0279] Systemic administration can also be by transmucosal or transdermal means. For transmucosal or transdermal administration, penetrants appropriate to the barrier to be permeated are used in the formulation. Such penetrants are generally known in the art, and include, for example, for transmucosal administration, detergents, bile salts, and fusidic acid derivatives. Transmucosal administration can be accomplished through the use of nasal sprays or suppositories. For transdermal administration, the active compounds are formulated into ointments, salves, gels, or creams as generally known in the art.

[0280] The compounds can also be prepared in the form of suppositories (e.g., with conventional suppository bases such as cocoa butter and other glycerides) or retention enemas for rectal delivery.

[0281] In one embodiment, the active compounds are prepared with carriers that will protect the compound against rapid elimination from the body, such as a controlled release formulation, including implants and microencapsulated delivery systems. Biodegradable, biocompatible polymers can be used, such as ethylene vinyl acetate, polyanhydrides, polyglycolic acid, collagen, polyorthoesters, and polylactic acid. Methods for preparation of such formulations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The materials can also be obtained commercially from Alza Corporation and Nova Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Liposomal suspensions (including liposomes having monoclonal antibodies incorporated therein or thereon) can also be used as pharmaceutically acceptable carriers. These can be prepared according to methods known to those skilled in the art, for example, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,522,811.

[0282] It is especially advantageous to formulate oral or parenteral compositions in dosage unit form for ease of administration and uniformity of dosage. Dosage unit form as used herein refers to physically discrete units suited as unitary dosages for the subject to be treated; each unit containing a predetermined quantity of active compound calculated to produce the desired therapeutic effect in association with the required pharmaceutical carrier. The specification for the dosage unit forms of the invention are dictated by and directly dependent on the unique characteristics of the active compound and the particular therapeutic effect to be achieved, and the limitations inherent in the art of compounding such an active compound for the treatment of individuals.

[0283] For antibodies, the preferred dosage is 0.1 mg/kg to 100 mg/kg of body weight (generally 10 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg). If the antibody is to act in the brain, a dosage of 50 mg/kg to 100 mg/kg is usually appropriate. Generally, partially human antibodies and fully human antibodies have a longer half-life within the human body than other antibodies. Accordingly, lower dosages and less frequent administration is often possible. Modifications such as lipidation can be used to stabilize antibodies and to enhance uptake and tissue penetration (e.g., into the breast epithelium). A method for lipidation of antibodies is described by Cruikshank et al. (1997) J. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology 14:193.

[0284] The nucleic acid molecules corresponding to a marker gene of the invention can be inserted into vectors and used as gene therapy vectors. Gene therapy vectors can be delivered to a subject by, for example, intravenous injection, local administration (U.S. Pat. No. 5,328,470), or by stereotactic injection (see, e.g., Chen et al., 1994, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:3054-3057). The pharmaceutical preparation of the gene therapy vector can include the gene therapy vector in an acceptable diluent, or can comprise a slow release matrix in which the gene delivery vehicle is imbedded. Alternatively, where the complete gene delivery vector can be produced intact from recombinant cells, e.g. retroviral vectors, the pharmaceutical preparation can include one or more cells which produce the gene delivery system.

[0285] The pharmaceutical compositions can be included in a container, pack, or dispenser together with instructions for administration.

[0286] V. Computer Readable Means and Arrays

[0287] The present invention also provides computer readable media comprising the nucleic acid sequence of a marker gene of the invention and the amino acid sequence of a marker protein of the invention (hereinafter collectively "sequence information of the present invention") . As used herein, "computer readable media" refers to any medium that can be read and accessed directly by a computer. Such media include, but are not limited to: magnetic storage media, such as floppy discs, hard disc storage medium, and magnetic tape; optical storage media such as CD-ROM; electrical storage media such as RAM and ROM; and hybrids of these categories such as magnetic/optical storage media. The skilled artisan will readily appreciate how any of the presently known computer readable mediums can be used to create a manufacture comprising computer readable medium having recorded thereon sequence information of the present invention.

[0288] As used herein, "recorded" refers to a process for storing information on computer readable medium. Those skilled in the art can readily adopt any of the presently known methods for recording information on computer readable medium to generate manufactures comprising the sequence information of the present invention.

[0289] A variety of data processor programs and formats can be used to store the sequence information of the present invention on computer readable medium. For example, the sequence information of the present invention can be represented in a word processing text file, formatted in commercially-available software such as WordPerfect and MicroSoft Word, or represented in the form of an ASCII file, stored in a database application, such as DB2, Sybase, Oracle, or the like. Any number of data processor structuring formats (e.g., text file or database) may be adapted in order to obtain computer readable medium having recorded thereon the sequence information of the present invention.

[0290] By providing the sequence information of the present invention in computer readable form, one can routinely access the sequence information for a variety of purposes. For example, one skilled in the art can use the nucleotide or amino acid sequences of a marker gene of the invention in computer readable form to compare a target sequence or target structural motif with the sequence information stored within the data storage means. Search means are used to identify fragments or regions of the marker gene or protein sequence of the invention which match a particular target sequence or target motif.

[0291] The invention also includes an array comprising the nucleotide sequence of a marker gene of the present invention. The array can be used to assay expression of one or more genes, including the marker gene, in the array. In one embodiment, the array can be used to assay gene expression in a tissue to ascertain tissue specificity of genes in the array. In this manner, up to about 7600 genes can be simultaneously assayed for expression. This allows a profile to be developed showing a battery of genes specifically expressed in one or more tissues.

[0292] In addition to such qualitative determination, the invention allows the quantitation of marker gene expression. Thus, not only tissue specificity, but also the level of expression of a battery of genes in the tissue is ascertainable. Thus, marker genes can be grouped on the basis of their tissue expression per se and level of expression in that tissue. This is useful, for example, in ascertaining the relationship of gene expression between or among tissues. Thus, one tissue can be perturbed and the effect on marker gene expression in a second tissue can be determined. In this context, the effect of one cell type on another cell type in response to a biological stimulus can be determined. Such a determination is useful, for example, to know the effect of cell-cell interaction at the level of gene expression. If an agent is administered therapeutically to treat one cell type but has an undesirable effect on another cell type, the invention provides an assay to determine the molecular basis of the undesirable effect and thus provides the opportunity to co-administer a counteracting agent or otherwise treat the undesired effect. Similarly, even within a single cell type, undesirable biological effects can be determined at the molecular level. Thus, the effects of an agent on expression of other than the target gene can be ascertained and counteracted.

[0293] In another embodiment, the array can be used to monitor the time course of expression of one or more marker genes in the array. This can occur in various biological contexts, as disclosed herein, for example in development and differentiation of breast cancer, tumor progression, progression of other diseases, in vitro processes, such a cellular transformation and senescence, autonomic neural and neurological processes, such as, for example, pain and appetite, and cognitive functions, such as learning or memory.

[0294] The array is also useful for ascertaining the effect of the expression of a marker gene on the expression of other genes in the same cell or in different cells. This provides, for example, for a selection of alternate molecular targets for therapeutic intervention if the ultimate or downstream target cannot be regulated.

[0295] The array is also useful for ascertaining differential expression patterns of one or more marker genes in normal and abnormal cells. This provides a battery of marker genes that could serve as a molecular target for diagnosis or therapeutic intervention.

[0296] VI. Predictive Medicine

[0297] The present invention pertains to the field of predictive medicine in which diagnostic assays, prognostic assays, pharmacogenomics, and monitoring clinical trails are used for prognostic (predictive) purposes to thereby treat an individual prophylactically. Accordingly, one aspect of the present invention relates to diagnostic assays for determining the level of expression of polypeptides or nucleic acids encoded by one or more marker genes of the invention, in order to determine whether an individual is at risk of developing breast cancer. Such assays can be used for prognostic or predictive purposes to thereby prophylactically treat an individual prior to the onset of the cancer.

[0298] Yet another aspect of the invention pertains to monitoring the influence of agents (e.g., drugs or other compounds administered either to inhibit breast cancer or to treat or prevent any other disorder {i.e. in order to understand any breast carcinogenic effects that such treatment may have}) on the expression or activity of a marker gene of the invention in clinical trials. These and other agents are described in further detail in the following sections.

[0299] A. Diagnostic Assays

[0300] An exemplary method for detecting the presence or absence of a polypeptide or nucleic acid encoded by a marker gene of the invention in a biological sample involves obtaining a biological sample (e.g. a biopsy of breast tissue or a lump) from a test subject and contacting the biological sample with a compound or an agent capable of detecting the polypeptide or nucleic acid (e.g., mRNA, genomic DNA, or cDNA). The detection methods of the invention can thus be used to detect mRNA, protein, cDNA, or genomic DNA, for example, in a biological sample in vitro as well as in vivo. For example, in vitro techniques for detection of mRNA include Northern hybridizations and in situ hybridizations. In vitro techniques for detection of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention include enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), Western blots, immunoprecipitations, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. In vitro techniques for detection of genomic DNA include Southern hybridizations. Furthermore, in vivo techniques for detection of a polypeptide encoded by a marker gene of the invention include introducing into a subject a labeled antibody directed against the polypeptide. For example, the antibody can be labeled with a radioactive marker whose presence and location in a subject can be detected by standard imaging techniques.

[0301] A general principle of such diagnostic and prognostic assays involves preparing a sample or reaction mixture that may contain a protein or nucleotide encoded by a marker gene, and a probe, under appropriate conditions and for a time sufficient to allow the protein or nucleotide and probe to interact and bind, thus forming a complex that can be removed and/or detected in the reaction mixture. These assays can be conducted in a variety of ways.

[0302] For example, one method to conduct such an assay would involve anchoring the protein or nucleotide on the one hand or probe on the other onto a solid phase support, also referred to as a substrate, and detecting complexes comprising the target marker gene or protein and the probe anchored on the solid phase at the end of the reaction. In one embodiment of such a method, a sample from a subject, which is to be assayed for presence and/or concentration of the proteins or nucleotides encoded by the marker genes, can be anchored onto a carrier or solid phase support. In another embodiment, the reverse situation is possible, in which the probe can be anchored to a solid phase and a sample from a subject can be allowed to react as an unanchored component of the assay.

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Treatment of breast cancer
Apparatus and method for breast cancer imaging


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