Cytokine messenger RNA stability is enhanced in tumor cells

Helen J. Ross, Noriharu Sato, Yoshito Ueyama, H. Phillip Koeffler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Hematopoietic growth factors are produced by a number of human tumors. We extracted RNA from selected human tumor cells known to produce at least one hematopoietic growth factor and found high levels of abnormally stable cytokine messenger (m)RNA. Half-life experiments performed after preventing RNA synthesis by exposing cells to actinomycin D before RNA extraction showed stabilization of cytokine messages in tumor cells in liquid culture as well as in human tumor xenografts grown in mice. Exposure to the phorbol ester phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (TPA) caused enhancement of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) message level in lung cancer cells and in control fibroblasts but elevated levels persisted far longer in the tumor cells. In normal cells, an AU-rich sequence in the 3′ untranslated region of cytokine mRNAs confers lability to the message. Although a β-globin gene expression vector contain-ing this region appears to produce unstable mRNA in lung cancer cells, cytokine mRNAs, which also contain this sequence, are very stable in the tumors we studied. This may indicate that another region of the cytokine mRNA molecule is of greater importance than the AU-rich region in determining mRNA stability in tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1787-1795
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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