A well differentiated human hepatoma cell line (Hep G2) was used to explore potential roles for PTH-related peptide (PTHrP) as an autocrine/paracrine growth factor. Using Northern analysis or reverse transcription-PCR, Hep G2 cells were found to express messenger RNAs for both PTHrP and the cloned PTH/PTHrP receptor, and the cells exhibited specific binding for [125I]PTHrP(1-36). Hep G2 growth medium was found to contain relatively large amounts of immunoreactive PTHrP (30 vs. 1-2 pM in medium not exposed to cells), and the PTHrP in growth medium (conditioned medium) was shown to contain N-terminal PTHrP biological activity, as assessed by the ability of the medium to stimulate cAMP production in rat osteosarcoma cells (ROS 17/2.8). Conditioned medium produced a dose-dependent severalfold increase in ROS cell cAMP that could be blocked by the PTHrP receptor antagonist [Asn10,Leu11,DTrp12]PTHrP-(7-34). PTHrP in Hep G2 cells also was detected by immunocytochemistry using antiserum to either synthetic PTHrP-(1-34) or recombinant PTHrP-(-5 to 139). Furthermore, these antisera were found to inhibit the ability of PTHrP-(1-34) to stimulate ROS cell cAMP production. When either antiserum (1:800-1:100 dilution) was added to subconfluent Hep G2 cells in medium containing 5% FBS for 3 days, a dose- related 40-50% increase in cell number occurred that could be inhibited by concurrent addition of 10 μM synthetic PTHrP-(1-36). The results show that Hep G2 cells synthesize and secrete both immunoreactive and biologically active PTHrP. As neutralization of PTHrP secreted by these cells by the addition of antiserum to PTHrP resulted in increased cell growth, the findings suggest that PTHrP can function as an autocrine or paracrine growth factor to suppress the growth of these human hepatoma cells.
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