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Cell Signal. 2006 Nov;18(11):1967-76. Epub 2006 May 3.

Hepatocyte growth factor installs a survival platform for colorectal cancer cell invasive growth and overcomes p38 MAPK-mediated apoptosis.

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Division of Molecular Oncology, University of Torino Medical School, Candiolo, Italy.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) induces invasive growth, a biological program that confers tumor cells the capability to invade and metastasize by integrating cell proliferation, motility, morphogenesis, and survival. We here demonstrate that HGFR activation promotes survival of colorectal carcinoma (CRC) cells exposed to conditions that mimic those met during tumor progression, i.e. nutrient deprivation or substrate detachment, and following chemotherapeutic treatment. In all these conditions, a sustained activation of p38 MAPK delivers a main death signal that is overcome by cell treatment with HGF. HGF-driven survival requires the engagement of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR/p70S6K and ERK MAPK transduction pathways. Abrogation of p38 MAPK activity prevents CRC cell apoptosis also when these transduction pathways are inhibited, and treatment with HGF further increases survival. Engagement of these signaling cascades is also needed for HGF to induce CRC cell scattering, morphogenesis, motility and invasion. Activation of p38 MAPK signaling is therefore a main apoptotic switch for CRC cells in the stressful conditions encountered during tumor progression. Conversely, HGF orchestrates several biochemical pathways, which allow cell survival in these same conditions and promote the biological responses required for tumor invasive growth. Both p38 MAPK and HGF/HGFR signaling constitute potential molecular targets for inhibiting colorectal carcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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