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Br J Cancer. 1998 Mar;77(6):855-61.

Epidermal growth factor receptor activation in androgen-independent but not androgen-stimulated growth of human prostatic carcinoma cells.

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Department of Urology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


These studies were undertaken to assess the relative expression and autocrine activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in normal and transformed prostatic epithelial cells and to determine whether EGFR activation plays a functional role in androgen-stimulated growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro. EGFR expression was determined by Western blot analysis and ELISA immunoassays. Immunoprecipitation of radiophosphorylated EGFR and evaluation of tyrosine phosphorylation was used to assess EGFR activation. The human androgen-independent prostate cancer cell lines PC3 and DU145 exhibited higher levels of EGFR expression and autocrine phosphorylation than normal human prostatic epithelial cells or the human androgen-responsive prostate cancer cell line LNCaP. PC3 and DU145 cells also showed higher levels of autonomous growth under serum-free defined conditions. Normal prostatic epithelial cells expressed EGFR but did not exhibit detectable levels of EGFR phosphorylation when cultured in the absence of exogenous EGF. Addition of EGF stimulated EGFR phosphorylation and induced proliferation of normal cells. LNCaP cells exhibited autocrine phosphorylation of EGFR but did not undergo significant proliferation when cultured in the absence of exogenous growth factors. A biphasic growth curve was observed when LNCaP cells were cultured with dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Maximum proliferation occurred at 1 nM DHT with regression of the growth response at DHT concentrations greater than 1 nM. However, neither EGFR expression nor phosphorylation was altered in LNCaP cells after androgen stimulation. In addition, DHT-stimulated growth of LNCaP cells was not inhibited by anti-EGFR. These studies show that autocrine activation of EGFR is a common feature of prostatic carcinoma cells in contrast to normal epithelial cells. However, EGFR activation does not appear to play a functional role in androgen-stimulated growth of LNCaP cells in vitro.

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