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Oncol Rep. 2009 May;21(5):1161-8.

No functional and transductional significance of specific neuropilin 1 siRNA inhibition in colon carcinoma cell lines lacking VEGF receptor 2.

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Department of Medicine I, University of Bonn, 53127 Bonn, Germany.


Neuropilins are membrane proteins that mediate effects on tumor cells directly and indirectly by affecting angiogenesis. Recent findings indicate that neuropilin 1 (NRP1) and the associated tyrosine kinase vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) play a regulatory role in developmental angiogenesis as well as in tumor angiogenesis. NRP1 and VEGFR2 might play a role in colon carcinogenesis and development of metastases. The significance of NRP1 expression in colon cancer seems to be controversial. Therefore, we aimed to distinguish between different expression patterns of signalling cascades in human colon carcinoma cell lines in order to analyze the role of NRP1 in tumorigenesis. We analyzed the biological significance of NRP1 in respect to VEGFR, EGFR, neuropilin and their ligands by RT-PCR and western blot with functional knock-out of NRP1 in different colon adenocarcinoma cell lines. There was no expression of VEGFR2 in tumor cell lines. There were cells that expressed: i) only NRP1 (HT-29, LS174T), ii) NRP2 (Colo320) or iii) both (SW480, LoVo). Cells without NRP1 expression strongly expressed EGFR but only when NRP2 was co-expressed. Inhibition of NRP1 expression by RNA interference did not alter growth characteristics in soft agar experiments. Furthermore, there were no differences in intracellular signalling pathways (ERK1/2 or AKT) in NRP1 inhibited cells. In ex vivo transfer experiments animals with tumors from siRNA-NRP1 transfected cells showed no significant inhibition of tumor growth compared to siRNA control. In conclusion, our results question the role of NRP1 function in VEGFR2 negative colon adenocarcinoma cells. NRP1 seems to have no detectable effect on proliferation or migration nor does it induce any changes in intracellular signalling pathways without the expression of VEGFR2. According to our data, further studies are needed to analyze the therapeutic relevance of NRP1 inhibition in vivo.

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