Expression of MET, the receptor for hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), has been associated with androgen-insensitive prostate cancer. In this study we evaluated MET activation by HGF and HGF action in prostate cancer cell lines. HGF causes phosphorylation (activation) of the MET receptor in three androgen-unresponsive cell lines (DU 145, PC-3, and ALVA-31) together with morphological change. Although HGF is known to stimulate the growth of normal epithelial cells, including those from prostate, we found that HGF inhibited ALVA-31 and DU 145 (hormone-refractory) cell lines. Moreover, HGF and vitamin D additively inhibited growth in each androgen-unresponsive cell line, with the greatest growth inhibition in ALVA-31 cells. Further studies in ALVA-31 cells revealed distinct cooperative actions of HGF and vitamin D. In contrast to the accumulation of cells in G1 seen during vitamin D inhibition of androgenresponsive cells (LNCaP), growth inhibition of the androgen-unresponsive ALVA-31 cell line with the HGF and vitamin D combination decreased, rather than increased, the fraction of cells in G1, with a corresponding increase in the later cell cycle phases. This cell cycle redistribution suggests that in androgen-unresponsive prostate cancer cells, HGF and vitamin D act together to slow cell cycle progression via control at sites beyond the G1/S checkpoint, the major regulatory locus of growth control in androgen-sensitive prostate cells.
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