Molecular endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.)

Betaglycan alters NFκB-TGFβ2 cross talk to reduce survival of human granulosa tumor cells.

PMID 23322721


The molecular pathways controlling granulosa cell tumor (GCT) survival are poorly understood. In many cell types, nuclear factor-κB (NFκB) and TGFβ coordinately regulate cell survival to maintain tissue homeostasis. Because GCT cell lines exhibit constitutively activated NFκB, we hypothesized that NFκB blocks TGFβ-mediated cell death in GCT cells. To test this hypothesis, we used the human GCT cell line KGN, which exhibits loss of betaglycan, a TGFβ co-receptor. After inhibition of NFκB in KGN cells, re-expression of betaglycan resulted in a decrease in cell viability, which was further decreased by TGFβ2. Intriguingly, TGFβ2 increased NFκB reporter activity in control cells, but betaglycan expression suppressed both basal and TGFβ2-stimulated NFκB activity. Chemical inhibition of Mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 2/3 (SMAD2/3) signaling or SMAD2/3 gene silencing revealed that both SMADs contributed to cell survival. Furthermore, inhibiting NFκB activity resulted in a specific reduction in SMAD3 expression. Conversely, overexpression of SMAD3 increased basal NFκB activity and countered betaglycan-mediated suppression of NFκB activity. Finally, ERK1/2 activation emerged as the point of convergence of NFκB, SMAD3, and TGFβ2/betaglycan governance of GCT cell viability. Key findings in KGN cells were reproduced in a second GCT cell line, COV434. Collectively, our data establish that both SMAD2/3 and NFκB signaling pathways support GCT cell viability and suggest the existence of a positive feedback loop between NFκB and SMAD3 signaling in late-stage GCT. Furthermore, our data suggest that loss of betaglycan during tumor progression in GCT alters the functional outcomes generated by NFκB and TGFβ pathway cross talk.