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Cell Signal. 2007 Sep;19(9):1956-63. Epub 2007 May 23.

Cyclooxygenase-2 transactivates the epidermal growth factor receptor through specific E-prostanoid receptors and tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme.

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Huntsman Cancer Institute, United States.


Cyclooxygenase-2 is often highly expressed in epithelial malignancies and likely has an active role in tumor development. But how it promotes tumorigenesis is not clearly defined. Recent evidence suggests that this may involve transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor through E-prostanoid receptors, but reports differ about the mechanism by which this occurs. We found that E-prostanoid receptors 2-4, but not 1, transactivated the epidermal growth factor receptor. This required metalloproteinase activity, leading to release of growth factors from the cell surface. Both transforming growth factor-alpha and amphiregulin were released in response to over-expression of cyclooxygenase-2, but betacellulin and heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor were not. The metalloproteinase tumor necrosis factor-alpha converting enzyme was required for proteolytic release of transforming growth factor-alpha. We also found that addition of epidermal growth factor receptor ligands to HEK293 cells induced cyclooxygenase-2 expression, suggesting that by activating epidermal growth factor receptor signaling, cyclooxygenase-2 potentially creates a self-perpetuating cycle of cell growth. Consistent with this, inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 reduced growth of epidermal growth factor receptor over-expressing MCF-10A breast epithelial cells in three-dimensional culture.

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