Background: Invasiveness and metastasis are the most common characteristics of non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and causes of tumour-related morbidity and mortality. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) signalling pathways have been shown to play critical roles in tumorigenesis. However, the precise pathological role(s) of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) in different cancers has been controversial such that the up-regulation of MKP-1 in different cancers does not always correlate to a better prognosis. In this study, we showed that the induction of MKP-1 lead to a significant retardation of proliferation and metastasis in NSCLC cells. We also established that rosiglitazone (a PPARγ agonist) elevated MKP-1 expression level in NSCLC cells and inhibited tumour metastasis.. Methods: Both wildtype and dominant negative forms of MKP-1 were constitutively expressed in NSCLC cell line H441GL. The migration and invasion abilities of these cells were examined in vitro. MKP-1 modulating agents such as rosiglitazone and triptolide were used to demonstrate MKP-1's role in tumorigenesis. Bioluminescent imaging was utilized to study tumorigenesis of MKP-1 over-expressing H441GL cells and anti-metastatic effect of rosiglitazone.Results: Over-expression of MKP-1 reduced NSCLC cell proliferation rate as well as cell invasive and migratory abilities, evident by the reduced expression levels of MMP-2 and CXCR4. Mice inoculated with MKP-1 over-expressing H441 cells did not develop NSCLC while their control wildtype H441 inoculated littermates developed NSCLC and bone metastasis. Pharmacologically, rosiglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) agonist appeared to induce MKP-1 expression while reduce MMP-2 and CXCR4 expression. H441GL-inoculated mice receiving daily oral rosiglitazone treatment demonstrated a significant inhibition of bone metastasis when compared to mice receiving sham treatment. We found that rosiglitazone treatment impeded the ability of cell migration and invasion in vitro. Cells pre-treated with triptolide (a MKP-1 inhibitor), reversed rosiglitazone-mediated cell invasion and migration.Conclusion: The induction of MKP-1 could significantly suppress the proliferative and metastatic abilities of NSCLC both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, MKP-1 could be considered as a potential therapeutic target in NSCLC therapy and PPARγ agonists could be explored for combined chemotherapy.
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