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Exp Cell Res. 2003 Aug 15;288(2):257-67.

Osteopontin contributes to hepatocyte growth factor-induced tumor growth and metastasis formation.

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Department of Pathology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


The cytokine hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/scatter factor-1 and its cognate receptor, Met, are involved in the etiology and progression of many types of cancer. Despite recent advances in understanding the signal transduction pathways activated by HGF, the mechanism by which HGF exerts its tumorigenic effect is not well understood. To identify proteins that may be involved in mediating HGF-induced cell motility, invasiveness, and tumorigenesis, we used two separate differential display screening methods to identify changes in gene expression that are initiated by HGF in an epithelial cell culture system. Among several known and unknown genes whose expression was modified, osteopontin (OPN), a protein previously associated with tumorigenesis, was found to be upregulated within 6 h following HGF stimulation. OPN expression was dependent on activation of the PI-3 kinase pathway. Autocrine secretion of HGF resulted in sustained expression of OPN. Downregulation of opn expression by stable antisense transfection attenuated OPN expression and repressed HGF-induced invasiveness in vitro and decreased HGF-mediated tumor growth and metastasis formation in vivo. Constitutive expression of OPN in itself exerted partial invasiveness in vitro, but its expression itself was not sufficient to initiate tumor growth or metastasis formation in vivo. Thus, together with other molecules, OPN activity contributes to HGF-induced tumor growth and invasiveness.

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