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Mechanism of Neuroblastoma Differentiation Identified

Last Updated: August 28, 2009.

Fibroblast growth factor-2 induces the differentiation of neuroblastoma cells by inducing growth arrest, affecting the epithelium to mesenchyme transition and suppressing a key regulator, according to a study in the September issue of Endocrinology.

FRIDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) induces the differentiation of neuroblastoma cells by inducing growth arrest, affecting the epithelium to mesenchyme transition and suppressing a key regulator, according to a study in the September issue of Endocrinology.

Shane Higgins, of the Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues examined how FGF-2 induces differentiation of neuroblastoma cells and overrides their mitogenic response to insulin-like growth factor-I.

The researchers found that FGF-2 induced cell cycle arrest, modulated genes involved in maintenance of the epithelial phenotype and cell-matrix interactions, and upregulated genes known to contribute to neuronal differentiation and neurite extension. Further investigation showed that inhibitor of differentiation 3 was a key regulator of these events and therefore a possible drug target, according to the study.

"In conclusion, we have shown for the first time that FGF-2 induces differentiation of neuroblastoma cells via activation of a complex gene expression program enabling modulation of cell cycle, transcription factors, and suppression of the cancer phenotype," Higgins and colleagues write.

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