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Endocrinology. 2009 May;150(5):2064-71. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1265. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8 is overexpressed in human pituitary tumors: role in proliferation and survival.

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Department of Medicine, Physiology, and Biophysics, University of Colorado, Denver, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA.


Based on prior work showing that human pituitary tumors overexpress epidermal and fibroblast growth factor receptors, we hypothesized that downstream components of growth factor signaling pathways may also be dysregulated. Epidermal growth factor pathway substrate number 8 (Eps8) was identified as a transcript overexpressed (5.9-fold) in human pituitary tumors compared with normal pituitary by DNA microarrays. Eps8 mRNA up-regulation was confirmed by semiquantitative RT-PCR. Immunoblot analysis showed that Eps8 protein levels and its downstream target phosphorylated ERK were also up-regulated in human pituitary tumors. Stable overexpression of Eps8 in LbetaT2 gonadotrope pituitary cells augmented colony formation in soft agar at d 21. Eps8 cells proliferated more robustly compared with controls in growth factor replete as well as growth-restricted conditions. In addition, the Eps8 overexpressing cells were protected from serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis compared with controls as assessed by caspase-3 cleavage. Epidermal growth factor activated a robust amplification of ERK and modest up-regulation of Akt in Eps8-overexpressing pituitary cells compared with vector controls. MAPK kinase inhibition or silencing of Eps8 blunted the proliferation of the cells in response to growth factor stimulation. Blockade of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway or silencing of Eps8 resulted in a loss of the Eps8 protection from growth factor withdrawal-induced apoptosis. Together these data support a role of Eps8 in amplifying growth factor receptor signaling in human pituitary tumors to promote proliferation and cell survival.

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