Background: Most human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells do not express somatostatin receptors and somatostatin does not inhibit the growth of these cancers. We have demonstrated previously that somatostatin inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancers expressing somatostatin receptor subtype 2 (SSR2) but not receptor-negative cancers. SSR2 expression may be an important tumor suppressor pathway that is lost in human pancreatic cancer. We hypothesized that SSR2 gene transfer would restore the growth inhibitory response of human pancreatic cancer to somatostatin.
Methods: We created adenoviral constructs containing the SSR2 or Lac-Z gene and transfected somatostatin receptor-negative human pancreatic cancer cells (Panc-1). Presence of functional cell surface SSR2 protein was assessed by whole-cell competitive binding assays. Parental cells, Lac-Z-transfected, and SSR2-transfected cells were cultured in the presence and absence of somatostatin. The rate of cell growth was determined by direct cell counting using a hemacytometer (n = 8 wells/group). Cells were analyzed for expression of tumor suppressor proteins by Western blot.
Results: Panc-1 cells transfected with the SSR2 transgene demonstrated high-affinity specific binding of (125)I-somatostatin at physiologic concentrations. Expression of somatostatin receptors caused 60% inhibition of cell growth compared with the Lac-Z virus-treated controls (P < 0.05 by Kruskal-Wallis/Bonferroni). There was no additional inhibition of cell proliferation with exogenous somatostatin. Furthermore, addition of somatostatin ligand antibody did not diminish the effect of SSR2 expression on cell proliferation. Western blot analysis revealed an upregulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 in the SSR2-transfected cells.
Conclusions: Expression of SSR2 by human pancreatic cancer causes significant slowing of cell division by a mechanism independent of somatostatin. The mechanism may involve upregulation of known tumor suppressor proteins. Restoration of SSR2 gene expression deserves further study as a potential gene therapy strategy in human pancreatic cancer.
(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).