05 March 2007
Objective: Molecular pathogenesis of digestive neuroendocrine tumors (dNETs) is largely unknown. Recently, the serine-threonine kinase B-Raf was identified as an oncogene in endocrine cancer such as thyroid carcinoma. In endocrine cells, the small G-protein Rap1 stimulates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling by activating B-Raf. We examined the expression of Rap1 and B-Raf in dNETs and their contribution to MAPK signaling in neuroendocrine cell lines. In addition, we explored the effect of suppressing B-Raf kinase by the recently developed inhibitor BAY43-9006 (Sorafinib) on growth, apoptosis and MAPK activation neuroendocrine cell lines. Methods and Results: Expression of Rap1 and B-Raf in dNETs (19 insulinomas, 15 carcinoid tumors and 10 gastrinomas) was examined by immunohistochemistry, which revealed that Rap1 and B-Raf were highly prevalent in the majority of dNETs. Overexpression of Rap1 and B-Raf activated MAPK extracellular dependent kinase (ERK) ERK-2 and ERK-dependent transcription factor Elk-1 in neuroendocrine cell lines Bon and INS-1. Suppression of B-Raf by BAY43-9006 inhibited growth and induced apoptosis in Bon and INS-1 cells. In addition, BAY43-9006 suppressed phosphorylation of MAPK ERK1/2 and its upstream kinase MEK1/2 in Bon and INS-1 cells. Conclusion: These results indicate that Rap1-B-Raf signaling may contribute to pathogenesis of dNETs and provides a molecular target for treatment of dNETs.