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Cancer Lett. 1997 Jul 15;117(1):41-50.

TGFbeta regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases in human breast cancer cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey 17033, USA.


We demonstrate herein the ability of transforming growth factor-beta-2 (TGFbeta2) to potently activate extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) in the highly TGFbeta-sensitive breast cancer cell (BCC) line Hs578T. The ERK2 isoform was activated by 3-fold within 5 min of TGFbeta2 addition to Hs578T cells. However, TGFbeta2 only slightly activated ERK2 (1.5-fold) in the partially TGFbeta-responsive BCC line MDA-MB-23 1. The magnitude of the difference in activation of ERK2 by TGFbeta2 in the two cell lines paralleled the difference in the IC50 values for TGFbeta inhibition of DNA synthesis; the IC50 value in the MDA-MB-231 cells was 32-fold greater than that in the Hs578T cells. Further, our data demonstrate that TGFbeta2 activated the stress-activated protein kinase/Jun N-terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK) type of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs); maximal induction levels were 2.5-fold above basal values and were attained at 30 min after TGFbeta2 treatment. Transient co-transfection of a luciferase reporter construct (3TP-Lux) containing three AP-1 sites and the plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) promoter, in conjunction with a construct that directs expression of a dominant-negative mutant ERK2 (TAYF) protein, did not block the ability of TGFbeta to induce AP-1 or PAI-1 activity. In contrast, TAYF ERK2 was able to block EGF and insulin-induced 3TP-Lux-reporter activity. These results indicate that in these BCCs, the activation of ERK2 by TGFbeta is more tightly linked to the ability of TGFbeta to inhibit DNA synthesis than to the ability to stimulate promoter regions important for TGFbeta production and control of the extracellular matrix. In addition, this is the first demonstration that TGFbeta can activate the SAPK/JNK type of MAPK in TGFbeta-sensitive human BCCs.

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