Open Access Research article

Overexpression of hepatoma-derived growth factor in melanocytes does not lead to oncogenic transformation

Angela Sedlmaier1, Nicolas Wernert2, Rainer Gallitzendörfer1, Mekky M Abouzied3, Volkmar Gieselmann1 and Sebastian Franken1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 11, 53115 Bonn, Germany

2 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany

3 Faculty of Pharmacy, University of El-Minia, Minia, Egypt

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:457  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-457

Published: 20 October 2011



HDGF is a growth factor which is overexpressed in a wide range of tumors. Importantly, expression levels were identified as a prognostic marker in some types of cancer such as melanoma.


To investigate the presumed oncogenic/transforming capacity of HDGF, we generated transgenic mice overexpressing HDGF in melanocytes. These mice were bred with mice heterozygous for a defective copy of the Ink4a tumor suppressor gene and were exposed to UV light to increase the risk for tumor development both genetically and physiochemically. Mice were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Furthermore, primary melanocytes were isolated from different strains created.


Transgenic animals overexpressed HDGF in hair follicle melanocytes. Interestingly, primary melanocytes isolated from transgenic animals were not able to differentiate in vitro whereas cells isolated from wild type and HDGF-deficient animals were. Although, HDGF-/-/Ink4a+/- mice displayed an increased number of epidermoid cysts after exposure to UV light, no melanomas or premelanocytic alterations could be detected in this mouse model.


The results therefore provide no evidence that HDGF has a transforming capacity in tumor development. Our results in combination with previous findings point to a possible role in cell differentiation and suggest that HDGF promotes tumor progression after secondary upregulation and may represent another protein fitting into the concept of non-oncogene addiction of tumor tissue.