Down-regulation of transforming growth factor beta receptors by androgen in ovarian cancer cells.
Steroid hormones have been implicated in the etiology and/or progression of epithelial ovarian cancer. As ovarian surface epithelial cells are growth inhibited by transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), we tested whether steroid hormones could regulate the expression of TGF-beta1 or its receptors in ovarian cancer cells, as assessed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. Treatment of ovarian cancer HEY cells with 500 nM 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), but not estradiol-17beta or progesterone, for 60 h down-regulated the expression of mRNA for TGF-beta receptors I and II (TbetaR-I and TbetaR-II), betaglycan, and endoglin but had no effect on TGF-beta1 mRNA levels. Androgen receptor (AR) mRNA expression in HEY cells was compared to other ovarian cancer cell lines. OVCAR-3 cells expressed AR mRNA levels similar to that of androgen-responsive LNCaP prostate cancer cells, whereas SKOV-3 and HEY cells expressed only 3 and 0.01%, respectively. Western blot analysis and saturation binding assays confirmed the expression of AR protein in these three cell lines, but at the limit of detection in SKOV-3 and HEY cells. Treatment of SKOV-3 and HEY cells for 24 h with 1-50 nM DHT resulted in a dose-dependent down-regulation of TbetaR-II mRNA. The AR antagonist hydroxyflutamide did not reverse the effect of DHT on SKOV-3 cells but by itself down-regulated TbetaR-II mRNA. This apparent androgen-mimetic action of hydroxyflutamide and the ability of SKOV-3 and HEY cells to respond to DHT may be due to their expression of AR-associating protein 70, an AR co-activator reported to amplify AR transactivation and to result in agonist activity of AR antagonists. DHT was able to reverse TGF-beta1 growth-inhibitory action in SKOV-3 cells and in a primary culture of ovarian cancer cells derived from ascites. Thus, androgens may promote ovarian cancer progression in part by decreasing TGF-beta receptor levels, thereby allowing ovarian cancer cells to escape TGF-beta1 growth inhibition.
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