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Int J Cancer. 2004 Jan 1;108(1):41-6.

Growth arrest by troglitazone is mediated by p27Kip1 accumulation, which results from dual inhibition of proteasome activity and Skp2 expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Asahikawa Medical College, Asahikawa, Japan.


In our study, we examined whether human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) expresses peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) and the effects of PPAR gamma activation by its selective ligands on cell growth and cell invasion in HCC cells. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis revealed that HCC-derived cell lines, HepG2 and HLF, express PPARgamma mRNA and protein. Luciferase assay in HLF cells showed that troglitazone, a selective ligand for PPAR gamma, transactivated the transcription of a peroxisome proliferator response element-driven promoter in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that the expressed PPARgamma functions as a transcriptional factor. Not only troglitazone but pioglitazone dose-dependently inhibited cell growth in HepG2 and HLF cells. Invasion assay using a transwell chamber demonstrated that troglitazone also inhibited cell invasion in HCC cells. To examine the mechanism of the troglitazone-induced growth inhibition, we determined p27(Kip1), a cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor, expression by Western blot analysis in troglitazone-treated HLF cells. Troglitazone increased p27(Kip1) in time- and dose-dependent manners, suggesting that p27(Kip1) may be involved in the growth inhibition by troglitazone in HLF cells. To further examine the mechanism of the troglitazone-induced p27(Kip1) protein accumulation, 2 major systems for regulation of p27(Kip1) protein, proteasome activity and Skp2, an F-box protein that targets p27(Kip1) for degradation, were evaluated. Troglitazone potently inhibited proteasome activity and decreased Skp2 protein levels. All these results suggest that human HCC cells express functional PPAR gamma and PPARgamma activation resulted in growth inhibition. The growth inhibition was mediated by p27(Kip1) accumulation, which is induced by both inhibition of ubiquitylation of p27(Kip1) and reduction of degradation activity of p27Kip1 by proteasome.

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