Novel role for insulin as an autocrine growth factor for malignant brain tumour cells

Alexandre Arcaro, Kathrin T Doepfner, Danielle Boller, Ana S Guerreiro, Tarek Shalaby, Shaun Jackson, Simone Marianne Schoenwaelder, Olivier Delattre, Michael A Grotzer, Barbara Fischer

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39 Citations (Scopus)


AT/RTs (atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumours) of the CNS (central nervous system) are childhood malignancies associated with poor survival rates due to resistance to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy. We characterized a panel of human AT/RT and MRT (malignant rhabdoid tumour) cell lines for expression of RTKs (receptor tyrosine kinases) and their involvement in tumour growth and survival. When compared with normal brain tissue, AT/RT cell lines overexpressed the IR (insulin receptor) and the IGFIR (insulin-like growth factor-I receptor). Moreover, insulin was secreted by AT/RT cells grown in serum-free medium. Insulin potently activated Akt (also called protein kinase B) in AT/RT cells, as compared with other growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor. Pharmacological inhibitors, neutralizing antibodies, or RNAi (RNA interference) targeting the IR impaired the growth of AT/RT cell lines and induced apoptosis. Inhibitors of the PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase)/Akt pathway also impaired basal and insulin-stimulated AT/RT cell proliferation. Experiments using RNAi and isoform-specific pharmacological inhibitors established a key role for the class I(A) PI3K p110alpha isoform in AT/RT cell growth and insulin signalling. Taken together, our results reveal a novel role for autocrine signalling by insulin and the IR in growth and survival of malignant human CNS tumour cells via the PI3K/Akt pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57 - 66
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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