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Cytokine. 1995 Jul;7(5):449-56.

Transcriptional upregulation of TGF-alpha by phenylacetate and phenylbutyrate is associated with differentiation of human melanoma cells.

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Clinical Pharmacology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The aromatic fatty acids phenylacetate (PA) and phenylbutyrate (PB) induce tumour cell differentiation in experimental models and both are currently in clinical trials. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of these antitumour agents on the expression of transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) in neoplastic cells. Treatment of human melanoma 1011 cultures with either PA or PB caused over 40-fold increase in TGF-alpha biosynthesis and secretion into the media. Whereas elevation in TGF-alpha mRNA steady-state levels became evident within 6-12 h and reached peak quantities the following day, the amounts of its coded protein increased gradually over a period of 5 days of treatment. Further molecular analysis revealed that regulation of TGF-alpha expression occurred at the transcriptional level. In contrast to TGF-alpha, expression of its receptor remained below detectable levels, indicating that an autocrine loop involving this growth factor is unlikely. Interestingly, the increase in TGF-alpha production paralleled drug-induced cytostasis and differentiation defined by morphological changes and increased melanogenesis. Like PA and PB, other differentiation inducers such as all-trans-retinoic acid, dimethyl sulfoxide, and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, all induced TGF-alpha expression in the melanoma cells. The close association between enhanced TGF-alpha production and melanoma cell differentiation suggests that this growth factor, often linked to mitogenesis, may play a novel role in tumour differentiation by PA and PB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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