Published online Mar 15, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i6.819
Revised: September 23, 2003
Accepted: November 15, 2003
Published online: March 15, 2004
AIM: To investigate the molecular mechanism of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) on regulating the proliferation of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
METHODS: Alpha-fetoprotein purified from human umbilical blood was added to cultured human hepatocellular carcinoma Bel 7402 cells in vitro for various treatment periods. The expression of c-fos, c-jun, and N-ras mRNA involved in proliferation and differentiation of cells was analyzed by Northern blot, and the expression of mutative p53 and p21ras proteins was determined by Western blot.
RESULTS: The results showed that AFP (20 mg/L) stimulated mRNA expression of these oncogenes in Bel 7402 cells. The expression of c-fos mRNA increased by 51.1%, 60.9%, 96.0%, and 25.5% at 2, 6, 12, and 24 h, respectively. The expression of c-jun and N-ras mRNA reached to the maximum which increased by 81.3% and 59.9% as compared with the control after 6 h and 24 h incubation with AFP, respectively. Western blot assay also demonstrated that AFP promoted the expression of mutative p53 and p21ras proteins, and the increased rate of those proteins was 13.0%, 39.9%, and 70.9%, as well as 35.2%, 102.6%, and 46.8% at 6, 12, and 24 h, respectively, as compared with the control. Both human serum albumin (the same dosage as AFP) and monoclonal anti-AFP antibody failed to stimulate the expression of these oncogenes, but anti-AFP antibody could block the functions of AFP.
CONCLUSION: The data indicate that AFP can stimulate the expression of some oncogenes to enhance the proliferation of human hepatocellular carcinoma Bel 7402 cells.