Nodal promotes glioblastoma cell growth.

Department of Biology, York University Toronto, ON, Canada.
Frontiers in Endocrinology 01/2012; 3:59. DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2012.00059
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Nodal is a member of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily that plays critical roles during embryogenesis. Recent studies in ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancer cells suggest that Nodal also regulates cell proliferation, apoptosis, and invasion in cancer cells. However, it appears to exert both tumor-suppressing and tumor-promoting effects, depending on the cell type. To further understand the role of Nodal in tumorigenesis, we examined the effect of Nodal in glioblastoma cell growth and spheroid formation using U87 cell line. Treatment of U87 with recombinant Nodal significantly increased U87 cell growth. In U87 cells stably transfected with the plasmid encoding Nodal, Smad2 phosphorylation was strongly induced and cell growth was significantly enhanced. Overexpression of Nodal also resulted in tight spheroid formation. On the other hand, the cells stably transfected with Nodal siRNA formed loose spheroids. Nodal is known to signal through activin receptor-like kinase 4 (ALK4) and ALK7 and the Smad2/3 pathway. To determine which receptor and Smad mediate the growth promoting effect of Nodal, we transfected siRNAs targeting ALK4, ALK7, Smad2, or Smad3 into Nodal-overexpressing cells and observed that cell growth was significantly inhibited by ALK4, ALK7, and Smad3 siRNAs. Taken together, these findings suggest that Nodal may have tumor-promoting effects on glioblastoma cells and these effects are mediated by ALK4, ALK7, and Smad3.

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    ABSTRACT: Cancers consist of heterogeneous populations. Recently, it has been demonstrated that cells with tumorigenic potential are limited to a small population, called cancer-initiating cells (CICs). Aldehyde dehydrohenase 1 (ALDH1) is one of the markers of CICs. We previously reported that ALDH1-high cases of uterine endometrioid adenocarcinoma showed poor prognosis, and ALDH1-high population of endometrioid adenocarcinoma cell line was more tumorigenic, resistant to anti-cancer drugs, and invasive than ALDH1-low population. Here, the regulatory signaling for ALDH1 was examined. The inhibition of TGF- β signaling increased ALDH1-high population. Among TGF- β family members, Nodal expression and ALDH1 expression levels were mutually exclusive. Immunohistochemical analysis on clinical samples revealed Nodal-high tumor cells to be ALDH-low and vise versa, suggesting that Nodal may inhibit ALDH1 expression via stimulating TGF-β signaling in uterine endometrioid adenocarcinoma. In fact, the addition of Nodal to endometrioid adenocarcinoma cell line reduced ALDH1-high population. Although ALDH1 mRNA level was not affected, the amount of ALDH1 protein appeared to be reduce by Nodal through ubiquitine-proteasome pathway. The regulation of TGF-β signaling might be a novel therapeutic target of CICs in endometrioid adenocarcinoma.
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