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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Nov;84(21):7567-70.

Production of transforming growth factor alpha in human pancreatic cancer cells: evidence for a superagonist autocrine cycle.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson 85724.


Previous work showed that cultured human pancreatic cancer cells overexpress the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor. In the present study, we sought to determine whether some of these cell lines produce transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha). Utilizing a radiolabeled TGF-alpha cDNA in hybridization experiments, we determined that ASPC-1, T3M4, PANC-1, COLO-357, and MIA PaCa-2 cell lines expressed TGF-alpha mRNA. Serum-free medium conditioned by T3M4 and ASPC-1 cells contained significant amounts of TGF-alpha protein. Although unlabeled TGF-alpha readily competed with 125I-labeled EGF for binding, each cell line exhibited lower surface binding and internalization of 125I-labeled TGF-alpha as compared to 125I-labeled EGF. Both TGF-alpha and EGF significantly enhanced the anchorage-independent growth of PANC-1, T3M4, and ASPC-1 cells. However, TGF-alpha was 10- to 100-fold more potent than EGF. These findings suggest that the concomitant overexpression of EGF receptors and production of TGF-alpha may represent an efficient mechanism for certain cancer cells to obtain a growth advantage.

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