The insulin-like growth factors IGF-I and IGF-II are potent mitogens for several breast tumor cell lines in culture. Additionally, both IGF-I and IGF-II mRNAs are easily detected in the majority of breast tumor specimens examined, while no breast cancer epithelial cell lines we have studied express authentic IGF-I mRNA, and few lines express IGF-II mRNA. Although receptors for insulin, IGF-I, and IGF-II have been described, there is significant cross-reactivity between the various receptors and ligands in the insulin/insulin-like growth factor family, and it is not clear which receptor or receptors are responsible for the biological effects of these growth factors in this system.
Using an RNase protection assay, we examined breast tumor specimens and breast cancer epithelial cell lines for expression of mRNA encoding the type I and type II IGF receptors as well as the insulin receptor. Virtually all of the specimens examined expressed mRNA for all three receptors. We then examined estrogen-dependent MCF-7 cells for the mitogenic effects of IGF-I and II in the presence of antibodies to both the type I and type II receptors. αIR-3, a monoclonal antibody which blocks the type I receptor, abolished the mitogenic effects of both IGF-I and IGF-II. It did not, however, block the mitogenic effects of insulin. We conclude that type I and type II IGF receptors are ubiquitously expressed in breast cancer, and our experiments with MCF-7 cells suggest the mitogenic effects of both IGF-I and IGF-II are mediated via the type I IGF receptor.
↵1 Supported in part by a grant from the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
- Received June 29, 1989.
- Revision received September 27, 1989.
- Accepted October 3, 1989.
- ©1990 American Association for Cancer Research.