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Raf-1 activation suppresses neuroendocrine marker and hormone levels in human gastrointestinal carcinoid cells.

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  • 1Dept. of Surgery, Univ. of Wisconsin Medical School, University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Madison 53792, USA.


Gastrointestinal carcinoid cells secrete multiple neuroendocrine markers and hormones including 5-HT and chromogranin A. The intracellular signaling pathways that regulate production of bioactive molecules are not completely understood. Our aim was to determine whether activation of the raf-1/MEK/MAPK signal transduction pathway in carcinoid cells could modulate production of neuroendocrine markers and hormones. Human pancreatic carcinoid cells (BON) were stably transduced with an estrogen-inducible raf-1 construct creating BON-raf cells. Activation of raf-1 in BON-raf cells led to a marked induction of phosphorylated MEK and ERK1/2 within 48 h. Importantly, raf-1 activation resulted in morphological changes accompanied by a marked decrease in neuroendocrine secretory granules by electronmicroscopy. Moreover, induction of raf-1 in BON-raf cells led to significant reductions in 5-HT, chromogranin A, and synaptophysin levels. Furthermore, treatment of BON-raf cells with MEK inhibitors PD-98059 and U-0126 blocked raf-1-mediated morphological changes and hormone suppression but not ERK1/2 phosphorylation. These results show that raf-1 induction suppresses neuroendocrine marker and hormone production in human gastrointestinal carcinoid cells via a pathway dependent on MEK activation.

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