HSulf-1 modulates HGF-mediated tumor cell invasion and signaling in head and neck squamous carcinoma. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recently, we cloned a novel sulfatase domain-containing downregulated gene, HSulf-1, which modulates heparin-binding growth factor signaling in ovarian cancer. Based on the pilot data showing the loss of HSulf-1 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines (SCCHN), we sought to employ SCCHN as a model to define the role of HSulf-1 in the molecular regulation of tumorigenicity. Three SCCHN lines (012SCC, WMMSCC, and 015SCC) had no detectable HSulf-1 mRNA. Clonal lines of HSulf-1-expressing 012SCC attenuated the activation of ERK/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling mediated by fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) and both ERK/MAPK and Akt signaling mediated by hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Consistent with this downregulation, phosphorylation of HGF receptor, c-Met, which is frequently overexpressed in SCCHN, was also attenuated in HSulf-1 clonal 012SCC cell lines. HGF markedly enhanced the motility and migration of vector-transfected cells in a transwell invasion chamber. However, HGF-mediated motility and invasion was attenuated in HSulf-1 clonal 012SCC cell lines. In addition, transfected cells displayed significant growth inhibition concomitant with a decrease in mitogenicity, as measured by thymidine incorporation and increased sensitivity to staurosporine- and cisplatin-induced apoptosis. These data suggest that HSulf-1 normally functions as a negative regulator in cell growth and loss of HSulf-1 in SCCHN potentiates growth factor signaling, enhances motility, invasiveness and inhibits stress-induced apoptosis, with a resulting increase in tumorigenicity.

publication date

  • February 2004