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Mol Carcinog. 2009 Jun;48(6):553-62. doi: 10.1002/mc.20494.

Resident hepatocyte fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 limits hepatocarcinogenesis.

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Center for Cancer & Stem Cell Biology, Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family signaling mediates cell-to-cell communication in development and organ homeostasis in adults. Of the FGF receptor (FGFR) isotypes, FGFR4 is the sole resident isotype present in mature parenchymal hepatocytes. FGFR1 that is normally associated with activated nonparenchymal cells appears ectopically in hepatoma cells. Ectopic expression and chronic activity of FGFR1 in hepatocytes accelerates diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-initiated hepatocarcinogenesis by driving unrestrained cell proliferation and tumor angiogenesis. Hepatocyte FGFR4 mediates liver's role in systemic cholesterol/bile acid and lipid metabolism and affects proper hepatolobular restoration after damage without effect on cell proliferation. Here we ask whether FGFR4 plays a role in progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We report that although spontaneous HCC was not detected in livers of FGFR4-deficient mice, the ablation of FGFR4 accelerated DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. In contrast to FGFR1 that induced a strong mitogenic response and depressed rate of cell death in hepatoma cells, FGFR4 failed to induce a mitogenic response and increased the rate of cell death. FGFR1 but not FGFR4 induced cyclin D1 and repressed p27 expression. Analysis of activation of Erk, JNK, and PI3K-related AKT signaling pathways indicated that in contrast to FGFR1, FGFR4 failed to sustain Erk activation and did not activate AKT. These differences may underlie the opposing effects of FGFR1 and FGFR4. These results suggest that in contrast to ectopic FGFR1 that is a strong promoter of hepatoma, resident FGFR4 that mediates differentiated hepatocyte metabolic functions also serves to suppress hepatoma progression.

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