Expression of transforming growth factor β type III receptor suppresses tumorigenicity of human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells

Lu Zhe Sun, Changguo Chen

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68 Scopus citations


Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) promotes tumor progression in some model systems including human breast cancer cells. In this Study, we report that human breast cancer cell lines express reduced amounts of TGF-β type III receptor (RIII) when compared with untransformed human mammary epithelial cells. Consequently, we examined whether expression of RIII in human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells could reduce TGFβ's tumor promoting activity by sequestering active TGF-β isoforms produced by the cells. A tetracyclinerepressible human RIII expression vector was stably transfected into the cell line. RIII expression in a pool of transfected clones and a single clone was found to be reversibly repressed by tetracycline treatment. Expression of RIII reduced the amount of active TGF-β1 and TGF-β2 in the conditioned medium. The medium conditioned by control cells showed a significantly higher growth inhibitory effect than that conditioned by RIII- transfected cells on the growth of the mink lung epithelial CCL64 cells. A conditioned medium collected from RIII-transfected cells treated with tetracycline significantly increased its growth inhibitory activity to that of control cells. Expression of RIII also reduced tumor incidence and growth rate in two separate experiments when the cells were inoculated in athymic nude mice. Treatment of the mice with tetracycline repressed RIII expression in the tumors generated by RIII-transfected cells and increased tumor incidence and growth rate. These results suggest that TGF-β RIII can reduce tumorigenicity of MDA-MB-231 cells apparently by sequestering TGF-β isoforms produced by these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25367-25372
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 3 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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