Cellular and Molecular Biology



Progranulin (Granulin-epithelin precursor, PC-cell derived growth factor, Acrogranin) in proliferation and tumorigenesis

C.H.P. Ong and A. Bateman

Endocrine Labs, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Offprint requests to: Andrew Bateman, Ph.D. Room L2.05, Endocrine Labs, Royal Victoria Hospital, 687 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec H3A, 1A1 Canada. e-mail: andrew.bateman@muhc.mcgill.ca


Summary. The granulin-epithelin precursor, progranulin, PC-cell-derived growth factor or acrogranin, is a high molecular weight secreted mitogen. It is abundantly expressed in rapidly cycling epithelial cells, in the immune system and in neurons, such as cerebellar Purkinje cells. Progranulin contributes to tumorigenesis in diverse cancers, including breast cancer, clear cell renal carcinoma, invasive ovarian carcinoma and glioblastoma. It regulates the rate of epithelial cell division in responsive epithelial cells, and confers an invasive phenotype on these cells. It is involved in the wound response. During embryogenesis, progranulin accelerates blastocyst formation, and is a growth factor for trophectodermal cells. In the neonate, progranulin, regulates the hormone-dependent virilization of the hypothalamus. It activates phosphorylation of Shc, and p44/42 MAPK (mitogen activated protein kinase) in the ERK (extracellular regulated kinase) signaling pathway; PI3K (phosophatidyl inositol-3-kinase), AKT/protein kinase B, and p70S6kinase in the phosophatidyl inositol-3-kinase pathway; and focal adhesion kinase in the adhesion/motility pathway. The signaling properties of progranulin are apparently similar to those of classic growth factors, but the functional properties of progranulin distinguish it from these molecules. Deleting the insulin-like growth factor I receptor from murine embryonic fibroblasts blocks proliferation in response to all classic growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor, or platelet-derived growth factor, whereas progranulin retains mitotic activity on these cells. The defined biological actions of progranulin probably represent a small fraction of its overall functions. Transcriptome analyses show that the progranulin gene is induced in numerous situations that vary from obesity to the transcriptional response of cells to antineoplastic drugs. Here, the biological roles of progranulin will be reviewed, with an emphasis on cancer and cell proliferation. Histol. Histopathol. 18, 1275-1288 (2003)

Key words: Progranulin, Proliferation, Tumorigenesis