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Int J Cancer. 1995 May 4;61(3):342-7.

alpha-Interferon potentiates epidermal growth factor receptor-mediated effects on human epidermoid carcinoma KB cells.

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Dipartimento di Endocrinologia ed Oncologia Molecolare e Clinica, Università Federico II di Napoli, Italy.


The molecular mechanisms underlying the growth inhibition of human tumor cells induced by recombinant interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) are mostly unknown. It has been proposed that this effect could be related to down-regulation and/or impaired function of peptide growth factor receptors (PGF-Rs) in tumor cells exposed to IFN alpha. However, we have previously described that IFN alpha-induced growth inhibition of human epidermoid carcinoma cells is paralleled by up-regulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R). Here we report that an increase in EGF-R synthesis is detectable after 3 hr of exposure to cytostatic concentration of IFN alpha in epidermoid KB tumor cells. In these experimental conditions IFN alpha does not depress and even potentiates EGF-R function. IFN alpha-treated KB cells retain sensitivity to the cytotoxic activity of the anti-EGF-R 225 monoclonal antibody (MAb), which acts through receptor blockade, and are sensitized to the growth-promoting effect of EGF. EGF-induced tyrosine (tyr) phosphorylation both of total cellular protein extracts and of the immunoprecipitated EGF-R is increased in IFN alpha-treated cells. We conclude that a cross-talk between IFN alpha and EGF occurs in KB cells since IFN alpha, at cytostatic concentration, potentiates the effects mediated by the EGF-R.

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