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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Grp78 promotes the invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma

Rongjian Su12*, Zhen Li3, Hongdan Li12, Huijuan Song12, Cuifen Bao12, Jia Wei12 and Liufang Cheng3

Author Affiliations

1 Central Laboratory, Liaoning Medical College, Jinzhou, PR China

2 Key Lab of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Education Department, Liaoning Province, Jinzhou, PR China

3 Gastroenterology Department, General Hospital of Chinese Liberation Army, Beijing, PR China

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:20  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-20

Published: 19 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Glucose regulated protein 78 (Grp78) is involved in the invasion and metastasis in many human cancers including gastric cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer. But the role of Grp78 in the invasion of human hepatocellular carcinoma has not been reported. In this article, we examined if Grp78 was associated with the invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma and explored the possible underlying mechanism.

Methods

The Grp78 and FAK expression levels in 44 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma were examined using immunohistochemistry. Grp78 overexpressing SMMC7721 cells were established by pcDNA3.1 (+)-Grp78 transfection and screened by G418. Grp78 and FAK levels in Grp78 overexpressing cells were down-regulated by siRNA transfection. The invasion status of tumor cells was evaluated by transwell assay in vitro, and chick embryo metastasis model in vivo. Cell spreading was determined by cell spreading assay, and quantitatively measured by Orisis software HUG. Grp78, pY397 FAK, pY576/577 FAK and FAK levels were detected by western blot. RhoA activity was detected by GST pulldown assay. The distribution of actin cytoskeleton was observed by fluorescent staining.

Results

Grp78 expression levels in 44 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma were negatively correlated with tumor grading, and positively correlated with portal invasion and intra-hepatic invasion. Overexpression of Grp78 in SMMC7721 cells promoted the invasion of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, and this increase in tumor cell invasion was blocked by Grp78 siRNA knockdown. Our results also revealed that overexpression of Grp78 in SMMC7721 cells accelerated the process of cell spreading and promoted lamellipodia formation. Further analysis showed that overexpression of Grp78 in SMMC7721 cells increased pY397 and pY576/577 levels of FAK. Grp78 siRNA knockdown decreased FAK activation and activity. Our results also revealed that Grp78 overexpression in SMMC7721 cells decreased RhoA-GTP level, and Grp78 siRNA knockdown rescued RhoA-GTP level in Grp78 overexpressing cells, indicating Grp78 inhibited RhoA activity in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Furthermore, overexpression of Grp78 in SMMC7721 cells increased phospho-p190RhoGAP level. FAK siRNA knockdown in Grp78 overexpressing cells reversed phospho-p190RhoGAP level. These data suggested that Grp78 inhibited RhoA activity by up-regulated phospho-p190RhoGAP level and Grp78 mediated p190RhoGAP phosphorylation is FAK dependent.

Conclusion

Grp78 promoted the invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma both in vitro and in vivo. Overexpression of Grp78 in hepatocellular carcinoma cells enhanced the activation and activity of FAK which negatively regulated Rock kinase activity by promoting the phosphorylation of p190RhoGAP.