Basic fibroblast growth factor causes growth arrest in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells while inducing both mitogenic and inhibitory G1 events

Huisheng Wang, Mark Rubin, Eyal Fenig, Anthony DeBlasio, John Mendelsohn, Joachim Yahalom, Robert Wieder

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66 Scopus citations


Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), a classical mitogen in fibroblasts and endothelial cells, inhibits the proliferation of MCF-7 and other human breast cancer cell lines. To explain this paradoxic effect, we investigated the effects of bFGF on cyclins and protein members of cyclin complexes that exert positive and negative control on the progression of cells through the G1 phase of the cell cycle. bFGF induced an increase in cyclin D1, cyclin E, and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (cdk4) protein levels in a bFGF dose-dependent manner. However, bFGF also induced a heat-stable, transferable cytoplasmic factor in MCF-7 cells that inhibited the histone H1 kinase activity of reconstituted cyclin E-cdk2 and cyclin A-cdk2 complexes from Mv1Lu mink lung epithelial cells. The appearance of this inhibit or correlated with a bFGF dose- and time-dependent increase in the levels of cdk inhibitor p21(WAF1/CIP1) of mRNA and protein. The increase in the level of p21(WAF1/CIP1) was associated with the disappearance of the rapidly migrating, activated form of cdk2 from cell lysates, dephosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb), and a decrease in cyclin A levels. These changes were represented in the cyclin D1 and E complexes by an increased association with p21(WAF1/CIP1), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and the inactive form of cdk2, without an absolute change in cellular PCNA levels and by a switch in the association of cyclin D1 complexes with the hyperphosphorylated form to the dephosphorylated form of Rb. These experiments demonstrate that stimulation of MCF-7 cells with bFGF, although resulting in up-regulation of G1 proteins responsible for mitogenic events, also induces a concomitant decrease in cyclin A levels and an increase in p21(WAF1/CIP1) mRNA and protein and results in inactivation of cdk2, dephosphorylation of Rb, and a segregation of PCNA to the G1 cyclin complexes. The dual, conflicting signaling by bFGF results in a net inhibitory phenotype in these cells. These experiments suggest a pleiotropic role for bFGF in breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1750-1757
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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