Cyclic AMP in ovarian cancer cells both inhibits proliferation and increases c-KIT expression

Tanya J Shaw, Eniko J Keszthelyi, Angela M Tonary, Michaela Cada, Barbara C Vanderhyden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


C-KIT encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor (KIT) that, when activated by its ligand (KL), stimulates proliferation, differentiation, migration, and survival. Greater than 70% of epithelial ovarian cancers coexpress c-KIT and KL. C-KIT and KL expression levels have been shown to be up-regulated by cAMP in some cell types. Additionally, cAMP is well-recognized for its anti-proliferative effects in cancer cells. The goal of these experiments was to investigate these seemingly contradictory consequences of cAMP treatment by: (1) confirming the growth inhibitory actions of cAMP on ovarian cancer cells; (2) investigating the ability of cAMP to affect c-KIT and KL expression in these cells; and (3) examining the possible role of endogenous and/or cAMP-regulated c-KIT and KL expression in ovarian cancer cell proliferation. HEY cells, an ovarian cancer cell line which expresses c-KIT and KL, were treated with dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP), 8-bromo-cAMP, and cholera toxin over a range of concentrations. With all treatments, stimulation of cAMP signaling caused a dose-dependent inhibition of HEY cell proliferation by up to 40, 62, and 38%, respectively. This inhibition of proliferation correlated with a dose-dependent increase in c-KIT mRNA expression, yielding 4- to 7-fold elevations in transcript abundance; there were no changes in steady-state levels of KL transcripts. In order to determine whether KIT expression/activity was responsible for the observed decrease in proliferation, dbcAMP-treated HEY cells were exposed either to anti-KIT neutralizing antibodies or to the KIT inhibitor STI571. These experiments demonstrated that KIT inhibition did not alter the growth rate of cells or reverse the dbcAMP-induced inhibition of proliferation. These results suggest that cAMP signaling pathways regulate both cell proliferation and c-KIT expression in ovarian cancer cells; however, KIT is not assuming its well-established role as a growth factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2002


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Benzamides
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Membrane
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms
  • Phosphorylation
  • Piperazines
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Pyrimidines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rats
  • Stem Cell Factor


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