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Christine Bolitho, Michael A Hahn, Robert C Baxter, and Deborah J Marsh

The chemokine CXCL1 is elevated in plasma and ascites from patients with ovarian cancer. We have previously shown that CXCL1 is a marker of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signalling in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cell lines, a pathway that is commonly activated in ovarian tumours. To investigate whether CXCL1 also has functional significance in ovarian cancer, this chemokine was either down-regulated using siRNAs or overexpressed by transfection of CXCL1 into the EOC cell lines SKOV3 and OVCAR-3 and proliferation assessed over 7 days. Overexpression of CXCL1 increased proliferation of ovarian cancer cells over 7 days, while down-regulation was inhibitory. Treatment of cells with recombinant CXCL1 induced epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) phosphorylation at Y1068, indicating crosstalk between the CXCL1 G-protein-coupled receptor CXCR2 and the EGFR. CXCL1-induced proliferation was also decreased by inhibition of EGFR kinase activity and was dependent on extracellular matrix metalloproteinase-mediated release of heparin-binding EGF (HB-EGF). Involvement of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signalling was also evident since inhibition of both Ras and MEK activity decreased CXCL1-induced proliferation. CXCL1-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation was inhibited by the MEK1 inhibitor PD98059; however, EGFR phosphorylation was unaffected, indicating that CXCL1 activation of MAPK signalling is downstream of the EGFR. Taken together, these data show that CXCL1 functions through CXCR2 to transactivate the EGFR by proteolytic cleavage of HB-EGF, leading to activation of MAPK signalling and increased proliferation of EOC cells.

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Michael A Hahn, Viive M Howell, Anthony J Gill, Adele Clarkson, Graham Weaire-Buchanan, Bruce G Robinson, Leigh Delbridge, Oliver Gimm, Wolfgang D Schmitt, Bin T Teh, and Deborah J Marsh

The tumor suppressor HRPT2/CDC73 is mutated in constitutive DNA from patients with the familial disorder hyperparathyroidism–jaw tumor syndrome and in ∼70% of all parathyroid carcinomas. In a number of HRPT2 mutant tumors however, expression of the encoded protein parafibromin is lost in the absence of a clear second event such as HRPT2 allelic loss or the presence of a second mutation in this tumor suppressor gene. We sought to determine whether hypermethylation of a 713 bp CpG island extending 648 nucleotides upstream of the HRPT2 translational start site and 65 nucleotides into exon 1 might be a mechanism contributing to the loss of expression of parafibromin in parathyroid tumors. Furthermore, we asked whether mutations might be present in the 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) of HRPT2. We investigated a pool of tissue from 3 normal parathyroid glands, as well as 15 individual parathyroid tumor samples including 6 tumors with known HRPT2 mutations, for hypermethylation of the HRPT2 CpG island. Methylation was not identified in any specimens despite complete loss of parafibromin expression in two parathyroid carcinomas with a single detectable HRPT2 mutation and retention of the wild-type HRPT2 allele. Furthermore, no mutations of a likely pathogenic nature were identified in the 5′-UTR of HRPT2. These data strongly suggest that alternative mechanisms such as mutation in HRPT2 intronic regions, additional epigenetic regulation such as histone modifications, or other regulatory inactivation mechanisms such as targeting by microRNAs may play a role in the loss of parafibromin expression.