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Prostate. 2009 Apr 1;69(5):528-37. doi: 10.1002/pros.20903.

EGFR ligand switch in late stage prostate cancer contributes to changes in cell signaling and bone remodeling.

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Department of Urology, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0654, USA.



Bone metastasis occurs frequently in advanced prostate cancer (PCa) patients; however, it is not known why this happens. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand EGF is available to early stage PCa; whereas, TGF-alpha is available when PCa metastasizes. Since the microenvironment of metastases has been shown to play a role in the survival of the tumor, we examined whether the ligands had effects on cell survival and proliferation in early and late PCa.


We used LNCaP cells as a model of early stage, non-metastatic PCa and the isogenic C4-2B cells as a model of late stage, metastatic PCa.


We found that the proliferation factor MAPK and the survival factor AKT were differentially activated in the presence of different ligands. TGF-alpha induced growth of C4-2B cells and not of the parental LNCaP cells; however, LNCaP cells expressing a constitutively active AKT did proliferate with TGF-alpha. Therefore, AKT appeared to be the TGF-alpha-responsive factor for survival of the late stage PCa cells. LNCaP cells exposed to EGF produced more osteoprotegerin (OPG), an inhibitor of bone remodeling, than C4-2B cells with TGF-alpha, which had increased expression of RANKL, an activator of bone remodeling. In concordance, TGF-alpha-treated C4-2B conditioned medium was able to differentiate an osteoclast precursor line to a greater extent than EGF-treated C4-2B or TGF-alpha-treated LNCaP conditioned media.


The switch in EGFR ligand availability as PCa progresses affects cell survival and contributes to bone remodeling.

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