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Peptides. 1991 Jan-Feb;12(1):17-23.

Neurotensin may function as a regulatory peptide in small cell lung cancer.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson 85724.


Neurotensin (NT) has been postulated to act as a modulatory agent in the central nervous system. Besides its presence in mammalian brain, NT is produced by small cell carcinoma of the lung (SCLC) and cell lines derived from these tumors. Receptors have also been characterized in some SCLC cell lines leading to the suggestion that NT could regulate the growth of SCLC in an autocrine fashion similar to bombesin/GRP. Previously, we had reported that a 10 nM dose of NT and NT(8-13), but not NT(1-8), elevated cytosolic Ca2+, indicating that SCLC NT receptors may use Ca2+ as a second messenger. Using intact SCLC cells we report that time-course incubations with NT lead to the formation of the amino-terminal fragment NT(1-8) and small amounts of the C-terminal fragment NT(9-13). These fragments are formed by metalloendopeptidase cleaving enzyme at the Arg8-Arg9 bond of NT. Significant levels of soluble (10-17 nmoles/mg Pr-/min) are present in SCLC cell lines. Using the in vitro clonogenic assay we tested the effect of 0.5, 5.0 and 10.0 nM doses of NT, NT(1-8) and NT(8-13) on SCLC clonal growth. NT and the C-terminal fragment NT(8-13) stimulated colony formation whereas the N-terminal fragment did not. In summary, NT may function as a regulatory peptide in SCLC through the formation of peptide fragments.

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