Object. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism by which malignant glioma cells escape from growth inhibition mediated by transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), a ubiquitous cytokine that inhibits cell proliferation by causing growth arrest in the G1 phase of the cell cycle.
Methods. The authors measured the response of eight malignant glioma cell lines to the growth-inhibiting activity of TGF-β in vitro and the expression of TGF-β Types I and II receptors in malignant glioma cells. The effect of TGF-β on the expression of a p27Kip1 cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor was also investigated to assess the downstream signal transmission from TGF-β receptors. All malignant glioma cell lines were insensitive to growth inhibition by TGF-β1 and TGF-β2. Analyses of TGF-β receptors by means of affinity labeling in which 125I-TGF-β1 was used showed that six glioma lines had both TGF-β Types I and II receptors on their cell surfaces, whereas two lines had very small amounts of TGF-β Type I and/or Type II receptors. Northern blot analysis showed that all tumor lines expressed variable levels of messenger RNAs for both TGF-β Types I and II receptors. Flow cytometric analyses revealed that treatment of malignant glioma cells with TGF-β1 significantly downregulated the expression of p27Kip1 protein in all malignant glioma cell lines except one.
Conclusions. The authors suggest that most malignant glioma cells express TGF-β Types I and II receptors, which can transmit some signals downstream and that the loss of response to TGF-β growth inhibition may not be caused by an abnormality of the TGF-β receptors.