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Aspasia-Athina Volakaki, Daniel Lafkas, Eva Kassi, Andrew V Schally, Athanasios G Papavassiliou, and Hippokratis Kiaris

GHRH, besides its neuroendocrine action in controlling the release of GH from the pituitary, stimulates the growth of various cancers in vivo and in vitro by direct mechanism(s). However, the molecular mechanism that mediates these proliferative effects of GHRH in extrapituitary tissues remains poorly characterized. In the present study, we investigated whether the tumor suppressor p21/waf1 is involved in the mediation of the proliferative effects of GHRH in A549 human lung cancer epithelial cells. Exposure of A549 cells to the GHRH antagonist JMR-132 caused a significant inhibition in the rate of cell proliferation. In A549 cells, GHRH suppressed while JMR-132 increased the levels of p21 expression in a dose-dependent manner. This suggests that GHRH could regulate p21 levels. We then evaluated whether p21 is required in A549 cells for the regulation of cell proliferation by GHRH. To this end, we knocked-down p21 expression in A549 cells by siRNA and assessed the effects of antagonist JMR-132 on cell proliferation. We found that the loss of p21 expression abolished the anti-proliferative effects of JMR-132. Suppression of p21 expression by siRNA in human HT29 colon cancer cells and non-transformed mouse osteoblasts KS483 also blocked the anti-proliferative effects of JMR-132 suggesting that the regulation of cell proliferation by GHRH is p21 dependent. These results shed light on the molecular mechanism of action of GHRH antagonists in tumor tissues and suggest that the antineoplastic activity of GHRH antagonists could be considered for the treatment of cancers expressing p21.

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Nektarios Barabutis, Agnieszka Siejka, Andrew V Schally, Norman L Block, Renzhi Cai, and Joseph L Varga

Hypothalamic GHRH controls the release of GH from the pituitary gland and also acts as a growth factor in a variety of cancers. The mitogenetic activity of GHRH is exerted through the binding to the pituitary type receptor (pGHRH-R) and its splice variants, mainly SV1. The intracellular signaling pathways that are activated upon the binding of GHRH to the SV1 receptor have not been elucidated. HeLa cervical cancer cells do not express GHRH or GHRH receptors (GHRHRs) and thus do not respond to GHRH or GHRH antagonists. In order to elucidate the mechanism of action of SV1 receptor, we transfected HeLa cells with plasmids for pcDNA3-GHRHR or pcDNA3-SV1. The transfected cells responded to both GHRH (1–29)NH2 and GHRH antagonist MZ-5-156, as shown by an increase or decrease respectively in the proliferation rate in vitro and the expression of proliferative cell nuclear antigen. We also demonstrated that when the cells transfected with SV1 plasmid are stimulated with GHRH (1–29)NH2, SV1 receptor activates the mitogen-activated protein kinases pathway (MAPKs), as shown previously for the cells that express pGHRH-R. Our results show, for the first time, the activation of the MAPKs cascade by the SV1 receptor. Since SV1 receptor is found in various tumors and mediates the responses to GHRH and synthetic antagonists, our findings shed light on the mechanism of action of SV1 receptor in cancer cells.