The insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-IR) plays an important role in cell transformation and in protection from apoptosis. Although the wild-type IGF-IR generally has an antiapoptotic effect, there are reports that its COOH terminus may actually generate a proapoptotic signal. Three different expression plasmids, all coding for the COOH-terminal sequences of the human IGF-IR, MyCF, CF, and MyKCF, were stably transfected into human ovarian carcinoma CaOV-3 cells. All three plasmids had no effect on monolayer growth but strongly inhibited colony formation in soft agar. Only one of the plasmids, MyCF, expressing the last 112 amino acids of the IGF-IR and carrying a myristylation signal, caused large-scale apoptosis of CaOV-3 cells in vivo and abrogation of tumorigenesis in nude mice. The plasmid expressing the MyCF sequence was also introduced into human glioblastoma T98G cells, where it decreased the clonogenicity of cells, caused a marked inhibition of colony formation in soft agar, and induced apoptosis in vivo. A double mutation at residues 1293 and 1294 of MyCF completely abrogated its inhibitory and proapoptotic activities. Neither the autophosphorylation of the IGF-IR nor the tyrosyl phosphorylation of IRS-1 was affected by the expression of the MyCF plasmid. These and other findings suggest that a stably expressed myristylated COOH terminus of the IGF-IR can induce apoptosis in human tumor cells in vivo and inhibit tumorigenesis in nude mice by a mechanism that avoids the protective effect of the IGF-IR.

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Supported by NIH Grants CA 53484 and GM 33694.

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