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J Biol Chem. 2004 Nov 5;279(45):46706-14. Epub 2004 Aug 26.

Induction of stem cell factor/c-Kit/slug signal transduction in multidrug-resistant malignant mesothelioma cells.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pathology and Innovative Therapies, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona 60131, Italy.


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is strongly resistant to conventional chemotherapy by unclear mechanisms. We and others have previously reported that cytokine- and growth factor-mediated signal transduction is involved in the growth and progression of MM. Here, we identified a pathway that involves stem cell factor (SCF)/c-Kit/Slug in mediating multidrug resistance of MM cells. When we compared gene expression profiles between five MM cells and their multidrug-resistant (MM DX) sublines, we found that MM DX cells expressed both SCF and c-Kit and had higher mRNA levels of Slug. Knockdown of c-Kit or Slug expression with their respective small interfering RNA sensitized MM DX cells to the induction of apoptosis by different chemotherapeutic agents, including doxorubicin, paclitaxel, and vincristine. Transfection of c-Kit in parental MM cells in the presence of SCF up-regulated Slug and increased resistance to the chemotherapeutic agents. Moreover, MM cells expressing Slug showed a similar increased resistance to the chemotherapeutic agents. These results indicate that induction of Slug by autocrine production of SCF and c-Kit activation plays a key role in conferring a broad spectrum chemoresistance on MM cells and reveal a novel signal transduction pathway for pharmacological or genetic intervention of MM patients.

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