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Cancer Res. 2005 Jul 15;65(14):6275-81.

Prostaglandin E2 activates mitogen-activated protein kinase/Erk pathway signaling and cell proliferation in non-small cell lung cancer cells in an epidermal growth factor receptor-independent manner.

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UCLA Lung Cancer Research Program of Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095-1690, USA.


Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) overexpression is found in a wide variety of human cancers and is linked to all stages of tumorigenesis. Elevated tumor COX-2 expression is associated with increased angiogenesis, tumor invasion, suppression of host immunity and promotes tumor cell resistance to apoptosis. Previous reports have linked the COX-2 product prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) to the abnormal activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/Erk kinase pathway. Here we show that PGE2 is able to rapidly stimulate Erk phosphorylation in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines. This effect is not evident in bronchial epithelial cells. In contrast to previous reports in colon cancer, we found that Erk activation as well as cellular proliferation induced by PGE2 was not inhibited by pretreatment of the cells with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Activation of the Erk pathway by PGE2 was also resistant to src kinase inhibitors but sensitive to the protein kinase C inhibition. PGE2 effects are mediated through four G protein-coupled receptors. Selective inhibition of EP receptors revealed the possible involvement of Ca2+-dependent signaling in PGE2-mediated activation of Erk. Our data indicate the presence of an EGFR-independent activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/Erk pathway by PGE2 in NSCLC cells. These findings provide evidence for the possible link between tumor COX-2 overexpression and elevated Erk-mediated cancer cell proliferation and migration. Importantly, these findings suggest that COX-2 overexpression may contribute to EGFR inhibitor resistance in NSCLC.

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