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Persistent ERK/MAPK activation promotes lactotrope differentiation and diminishes tumorigenic phenotype.

ABSTRACT: The signaling pathways that govern the lactotrope-specific differentiated phenotype, and those that control lactotrope proliferation in both physiological and pathological lactotrope expansion, are poorly understood. Moreover, the specific role of MAPK signaling in lactotrope proliferation vs differentiation, whether activated phosphorylated MAPK is sufficient for prolactinoma tumor formation remain unknown. Given that oncogenic Ras mutations and persistently activated phosphorylated MAPK are found in human tumors, including prolactinomas and other pituitary tumors, a better understanding of the role of MAPK in lactotrope biology is required. Here we directly examined the role of persistent Ras/MAPK signaling in differentiation, proliferation, and tumorigenesis of rat pituitary somatolactotrope GH4 cells. We stimulated Ras/MAPK signaling in a persistent, long-term manner (over 6 d) in GH4 cells using two distinct approaches: 1) a doxycycline-inducible, oncogenic V12Ras expression system; and 2) continuous addition of exogenous epidermal growth factor. We find that long-term activation of the Ras/MAPK pathway over 6 days promotes differentiation of the bihormonal somatolactotrope GH4 precursor cell into a prolactin-secreting, lactotrope cell phenotype in vitro and in vivo with GH4 cell xenograft tumors. Furthermore, we show that persistent activation of the Ras/MAPK pathway not only fails to promote cell proliferation, but also diminishes tumorigenic characteristics in GH4 cells in vitro and in vivo. These data demonstrate that activated MAPK promotes differentiation and is not sufficient to drive tumorigenesis, suggesting that pituitary lactotrope tumor cells have the ability to evade the tumorigenic fate that is often associated with Ras/MAPK activation.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC4250361 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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