Carcinoma of the stomach is one of the most prevalent cancer types in the world today. Two major forms of gastric cancer are distinguished according to their morphological and clinicopathological classifications (well differentiated/intestinal type and poorly differentiated/diffuse type), characteristics that could also be attributed to the altered expression of different types of oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. Significant differences exist for gastric cancer incidence comparing people of different ethnic origins, implicating various genetic and epigenetic factors for gastric oncogenesis. There are only a limited number of molecular markers available for gastric cancer detection and prognostic evaluation, among which are tyrosine kinases. There is convincing evidence that tyrosine kinases are involved in oncogenesis and disease progression for many human cancers. Amplifications of certain tyrosine kinases (c-met, k-sam and erbB2/neu) have been associated with human gastric cancer progression. Alternatively spliced transcripts and enhanced protein-expression levels for some of these tyrosine kinases are correlated with clinical outcomes for gastric cancer patients. With advent of high throughput techniques, it is now possible to detect nearly all expressed tyrosine kinases in a single screen. This increases the chance to identify additional tyrosine kinases as predictive markers for gastric cancers. In this article, we will first review the literature data concerning certain tyrosine kinases implicated in gastric carcinogenesis and then summarize more recent work which provide comprehensive tyrosine kinase profiles for gastric cancer specimens and cell lines. Two new gastric cancer molecular markers (tie-1 and mkk4) have been identified through the use of these profiles and demonstrated effective as clinical prognostic indicators.
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