Introduction: The ectodomain shedding of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligands, such as amphiregulin (AREG), by ADAMs (A Disintegrin And Metalloproteases) can be stimulated by G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) agonists. Interactions between the CXCR4 GPCR and the CXCL12 chemokine have been shown to mediate gene transcription and cellular proliferation in non-transformed and transformed prostate epithelial cells, as well as motility/invasiveness in transformed cells.
Objectives: In this report, we investigated the ability of CXCL12 to stimulate amphiregulin ectodomain shedding in non-transformed and transformed prostate epithelial cells that respond proliferatively to sub-nanomolar levels of CXCL12 and amphiregulin.
Materials and methods: Non-transformed N15C6 and transformed PC3 prostate epithelial cells were assessed for amphiregulin shedding, ADAM activation, Src phosphorylation and EGFR activation using ELISA, immunoblot, and immunoprecipitation techniques, and for proliferation using cell counting after stimulation with CXCL12 or vehicle.
Results: The results of these studies identify CXCL12 as a novel inducer of amphiregulin ectodomain shedding and show that both basal and CXCL12-mediated amphiregulin shedding are ADAM10- and Src kinase-dependent in non-transformed N15C6 cells. In contrast, amphiregulin shedding is not amplified subsequent to stimulation with exogenous CXCL12, and is not reduced subsequent to metalloprotease- or Src kinase-inhibition, in highly aggressive PC3 prostate cancer cells. These data also show that CXCL12-mediated cellular proliferation requires EGFR transactivation in a Src- and ADAM-dependent manner in non-transformed prostate epithelial cells. However, these same mechanisms are dysfunctional in highly transformed prostate cancer cells, which secrete amphiregulin in an autocrine manner that cannot be repressed through metalloprotease- or Src kinase inhibition.
Conclusion: These findings show that non-transformed and transformed prostate epithelial cells may employ different mechanisms to activate EGFR ligands and thereby utilize the EGFR axis to promote cellular proliferation.