Proliferation of human colon cancer cells: Role of epidermal growth factor and transforming growth factorα

Shuang Huang, Jose M. Trujillo, Subhas Chakrabarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Human colon cancer cells produce and secrete a variety of polypeptide growth factors. The functional role of these growth factors, however, is poorly understood. Though the secretion of epidermal growth factor (EGF)‐like activity and EGF‐related molecules by human colon cancer cells in culture has been reported, it is not known whether colon cancer cells produce and secrete EGF, and the functional role of EGF in the growth control of these cells is also unknown. We have shown that EGF acts as a potent growth stimulator on the moderately differentiated Moser colon cancer cell line and as an inhibitor on the highly metastatic KM12SM cell line. In the present study, we show that EGF is produced by human colon cancer cells and characterize the levels of EGF mRNA expression and EGF protein secretion from 8 human colon cancer cell lines. The cell‐surface EGF receptors on these cell lines were also characterized by radiolabeled ligand binding and Scatchard analyses. All the cell lines expressed EGF mRNA and secreted EGF. Both high‐ and low‐affinity subtypes of EGF receptor were detected on 7 of the cell lines. These lines also secreted transforming growth factor (TGF)α. Some cell lines exhibited a proliferative response to treatment with either exogenous EGF or TGFα, while others did not respond to treatment with these growth factors. Antibody‐blocking experiments, using anti‐EGF or anti‐EGF receptor antibody, suggested that these cell lines could be broadly classified into 2 groups in terms of their autocrine or paracrine growth regulation via the cell‐surface EGF receptor: (1) cells that utilized EGF and/or TGFα; and (2) cells that did not utilize EGF or TGFα (via the cell‐surface receptor), even though they secreted abundant amounts of these growth factors. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-986
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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