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Cancer Res. 2005 Jan 15;65(2):499-506.

The serum glycoprotein fetuin-A promotes Lewis lung carcinoma tumorigenesis via adhesive-dependent and adhesive-independent mechanisms.

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Department of Biochemistry, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.


Fetuin-A is a serum glycoprotein in the cystatin family associated with the regulation of soft tissue calcification. We tested the role of systemic fetuin in tumor cell growth and metastasis by injecting Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells into fetuin-A null and their wild-type (WT) littermate control C57BL/6 mice via the tail vein, s.c., and intrasplenic routes. In the experimental metastasis assay, the lungs of the WT mice were filled with metastatic nodules, whereas the lungs of the fetuin-A null mutant mice were virtually free of colonies at the end of 2 weeks. Lung colonization responded to the levels of serum fetuin-A in a dose-dependent manner, as observed by the formation of half as many colonies in mice heterozygous for the fetuin-A locus compared with homozygous WT mice and restoration of lung colonization by the administration of purified fetuin-A to fetuin-A-null mice. Serum fetuin-A also influenced the growth of LLC cells injected s.c.: fetuin-A-null mice developed small s.c. tumors only after a substantial delay. Similarly, intrasplenic injection of LLC cells resulted in rapid colonization of the liver with metastasis to the lungs within 2 weeks in the WT but not fetuin-A null mice. To examine the mechanism by which fetuin-A influences LLC colonization and growth, we showed that LLC tumor cells adhere to fetuin-A in a Ca(2+)-dependent fashion, resulting in growth of the tumor cells. These studies support the role of fetuin-A as a major growth promoter in serum that can influence tumor establishment and growth.

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