THE ectopic synthesis of placental proteins in human cancer is of special interest because of similarities between neoplastic and embryonic cells. Moreover, the inappropriate synthesis of biologically active proteins and polypeptide hormones which are normally produced only in specialised tissues (endocrine glands) or at a particular stage of development may provide information on the control of gene activity. Ectopic production of human placental chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) has been reported in some patients with neoplasms1,2. A cell line (Cha Go) established from an HCG-producing pulmonary carcinoma was shown to continue synthesis of the gonadotropin in culture3,4. We have now found that HeLa65, cells 6,7 produce the β subunit of HCG as measured by a specific radioimmunoassay and that sodium butyrate enhances production.
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