Gastrin-releasing peptide is a mitogen and a morphogen in murine colon cancer

R E Carroll, K A Matkowskyj, M S Tretiakova, J F Battey, R V Benya
2000 Cell growth & differentiation : the molecular biology journal of the American Association for Cancer Research  
Little is known about the factors involved in regulating the appearance, or differentiation, of solid tumors including those arising from the colon. We herein demonstrate that the mitogen gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) is a morphogen, critically important in regulating the differentiation of murine colon cancer. Although epithelial cells lining the mouse colon do not normally express GRP and its receptor (GRP-R), both are aberrantly expressed by all better differentiated cancers in wild-type
more » ... cers in wild-type C57BL/6J mice treated with the carcinogen azoxymethane. Whereas small tumors in both wild-type and GRP-R-deficient (i.e., GRP-R-/-) mice are histologically similar, larger tumors become better differentiated in the former but degenerate into more poorly differentiated mucinous adenocarcinomas in the latter. This alteration in phenotype is attributable to GRP increasing focal adhesion kinase expression in GRP-R-expressing tumors. Consistent with GRP acting as a mitogen, GRP/GRP-R coexpressing tumors in wild-type animals also contain more proliferating cells than those occurring in GRP-R-/- mice. Yet tumors are similarly sized in animals of either genotype receiving azoxymethane for identical times, a finding attributable to the significantly higher number of apoptotic cells detected in GRP/GRP-R coexpressing cancers. Thus, these findings indicate that although GRP is a mitogen, aberrant expression does not result in increased tumor growth. Rather, the mitogenic properties of GRP are subordinate to it acting as a morphogen, where it and its receptor are critically involved in regulating colon cancer histological progression by promoting a well-differentiated phenotype.
pmid:10939592 fatcat:htpaabs3pjf4lccm3gddozqjsq