Loss of HSulf-1 expression enhances autocrine signaling mediated by amphiregulin in breast cancer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Heparan sulfate (HS) glycosaminoglycans are the oligosaccharide chains of heparan sulfate proteoglycans. The sulfation of HS glycosaminoglycan residues is required for its interaction with various heparin-binding growth factors to promote their biological activities to activate their high affinity receptor tyrosine kinases. We have identified HS glycosaminoglycan-6-O-endosulfatase HSulf-1 as a down-regulated gene in ovarian, breast, and several other cancer cell lines. Here we have shown that HSulf-1 inhibits autocrine activation of the EGFR-ERK (epidermal growth factor receptor-extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway induced by serum withdrawal in MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells. Short hairpin RNA-mediated down-regulation of HSulf-1 in HSulf-1 clonal lines of MDA-MB-468 led to a significant increase in autocrine activation of ERK compared with vector only control. The autocrine signaling was also inhibited with neutralization antibodies against amphiregulin and HB-EGF, the heparin-binding growth factor family of the EGF superfamily. Furthermore, HSulf-1-mediated inhibition of autocrine signaling was associated with reduced cyclin D1 levels, leading to decreased S phase fraction and increased G(2)-M fraction, as well as increased cell death. Finally, evaluation of HSulf-1 expression levels in primary invasive breast tumors by RNA in situ hybridization indicated that HSulf-1 is down-regulated in the majority (60%) of tumors, with a predominant association with lobular histology. These data suggest a potential role of HSulf-1 down-regulation in mammary carcinogenesis.

publication date

  • May 2007