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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 14;101(50):17468-73. Epub 2004 Dec 1.

15-Hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase, a COX-2 oncogene antagonist, is a TGF-beta-induced suppressor of human gastrointestinal cancers.

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Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Marked increased expression of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), a prostaglandin-synthesizing enzyme that is pharmacologically inhibited by nonsteroid anti-inflammatory-type drugs, is a major early oncogenic event in the genesis of human colon neoplasia. We report that, in addition to inducing expression of COX-2, colon cancers further target the prostaglandin biogenesis pathway by ubiquitously abrogating expression of 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH), a prostaglandin-degrading enzyme that physiologically antagonizes COX-2. We find that 15-PGDH transcript and protein are both highly expressed by normal colonic epithelia but are nearly undetectable in colon cancers. Using gene transfection to restore 15-PGDH expression in colon cancer cells strongly inhibits the ability of these cells to form tumors in immune-deficient mice and demonstrates 15-PGDH to have functional colon cancer tumor suppressor activity. In interrogating the mechanism for 15-PGDH expression loss in colon cancer, we determined that colonic 15-PGDH expression is directly controlled and strongly induced by activation of the TGF-beta tumor suppressor pathway. These findings thus delineate an enzymatic pathway that induces colon cancer suppression, a pathway that is activated by TGF-beta and mediated by 15-PGDH.

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