Background: Up to 20% of colorectal cancer (CRC) is diagnosed with distant metastasis. The combination of chemotherapy with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody can improve patient survival. Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) has an important role in cancer progression, but little is known about its role in VEGF production in CRC. The aim of this study was to explore the mechanism of GRP78 in two human colon cancer cell lines. Methods: We first checked the expression of GRP78 in human normal and colon cancer tissues and two colon cancer cell lines. Glucose-regulated protein 78 was knocked down using GRP78 small interfering RNA (siRNA) in HT29 and DLD-1 cells. We examined knockdown cells by the cell growth kinetics in vitro and tumor growth rate in vivo, respectively. We also investigated the effect of GRP78 siRNA on the expression of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1α), VEGF, and VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Results: Compared with their adjacent normal tissue, we detected high expression levels of GRP78 of surgically removed colon cancer tissues. Using GRP78 siRNA, we reduced the expression of GRP78 in HT29 and DLD-1 cells. The GRP78 knockdown cells had a lower proliferation rate with fewer colony-forming units in vitro and produced smaller tumors in vivo. In dissecting the mechanism underlying the reduced cell growth, we found that the down-regulation of GRP78 decreased the production of HIF-1α, VEGF, and VEGFR2 and suppressed angiogenesis. Conclusions: Silencing GRP78 not only inhibits tumor, but also decreases the expression of VEGF and VEGFR2. Collectively, therapy targeting for GRP78 may inhibit the formation of colon cancer tumors via the HIF-1α/VEGF/VEGFR2 pathway.
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