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Int J Cancer. 1991 Feb 1;47(3):455-60.

Differential role of transforming growth factor-alpha in two human colon-carcinoma cell lines.

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Department of Pharmacology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030.


Antibodies to epidermal-growth-factor receptor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) were used to determine the role of endogenous TGF-alpha in the growth of 2 human colon-carcinoma cell lines. Both the GEO and HCT 116 colon-carcinoma cell lines secrete similar levels of TGF-alpha and have similar numbers of low-affinity binding sites for EGF. However, the HCT 116 cells lack the high-affinity EGF binding site present on the GEO cells. The anti-EGF receptor antibodies effectively blocked the binding of 125I-EGF to the GEO and HCT 116 cell lines. Growth of the GEO cell line was inhibited 50-80% by the anti-EGF receptor and anti-TGF-alpha antibodies. When the same antibodies, in sufficient amounts to block binding of TGF-alpha to the cells, were added to the HCT 116 cell line, no effect on growth was seen. These results suggest that while the GEO cell line utilizes TGF-alpha in an autocrine manner, the TGF-alpha secreted by the HCT 116 cells apparently does not play a role in the growth of these cells.

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