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Cell Growth Differ. 1990 Jul;1(7):325-31.

Insulin-like growth factor II acts as an autocrine growth and motility factor in human rhabdomyosarcoma tumors.

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  • 1Pediatric Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and appears to arise from developing striated muscle-forming cells. Since insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is involved in normal muscle growth and maturation and elevated IGF-II mRNA levels have previously been reported in rhabdomyosarcomas, we have been studying the possible role of IGF-II in the unregulated growth and invasive potential of these embryonal tumors. In this study, we demonstrate that 13 of 14 rhabdomyosarcoma tumors express high levels of IGF-II mRNA relative to normal adult muscle and also express mRNA for the type I IGF receptors on their cell surface, the receptor thought to mediate the effects of IGF-II on muscle cells. We have established several rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines in mitogen-free media and demonstrate that these cells express type I IGF receptors on their cell surface and secrete IGF-II into the media. Exogenous IGF-II is able to stimulate cellular motility in these cell lines as assayed in a modified Boyden chamber. Finally, alpha IR-3, a type I receptor antagonist, inhibits the growth of these cell lines in serum-free media but does not inhibit IGF-II-induced motility of these cells. These data suggest that endogenously produced IGF-II functions as an autocrine growth and motility factor in many rhabdomyosarcoma tumors. The mitogenic actions of IGF-II are mediated through a domain of the type I IGF receptor that is blocked by alpha IR-3. IGF-II-induced motility may be mediated through an alternative signaling pathway.

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