The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in many types of cancer, including epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), and its expression has been found to correlate with advanced stage and poor prognosis. The EGFR ligand amphiregulin (AREG) has been investigated as a target for human cancer therapy and is known to have an autocrine role in many cancers. A cytokine array identified AREG as one of several cytokines upregulated by EGF in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) dependent manner in EOC cells. To investigate the functional role of AREG in EOC, its effect on cellular migration and proliferation was assessed in two EOC cells lines, OV167 and SKOV3. AREG increased both migration and proliferation of EOC cell line models through activation of PI3-K signaling, but independent of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Through an AREG autocrine loop mediated via PI3-K, upregulation of AREG led to increased levels of both AREG transcript and secreted AREG, while downregulation of endogenous AREG decreased the ability of exogenous AREG to induce cell migration and proliferation. Further, inhibition of endogenous AREG activity or metalloproteinase activity decreased EGF-induced EOC migration and proliferation, indicating a role for soluble endogenous AREG in mediating the functional effects of EGFR in inducing migration and proliferation in EOC.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.