BACKGROUND: Osteosarcoma (OS) is an aggressive and often fatal cancer that afflicts over 1000 humans and 10,000 dogs per year in the United States. Recent evidence suggests deregulation in the signaling triad, receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B (RANK), its activating ligand (RANKL), and the RANKL inhibitor, osteoprotegerin (OPG) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of OS. This study investigated the expression of RANK and RANKL in osteosarcoma tumors and cell lines and describes an activating effect of OPG on OS cells in vitro.
RESULTS: Canine OS tumors and cell lines co-express mRNA for both RANK and RANKL. Expression of these proteins in OS cell lines was confirmed by Western blot and immunofluorescence microscopy. Expression of the soluble form of RANKL was not detected in media from OS cells. OPG-Fc incubation increased the phosphorylation status of ERK, AKT and the p65 subunit of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) and induced NFκB translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in canine OS cells. OPG increased proliferation in both canine and human derived OS cell lines.
CONCLUSION: RANKL is produced by OS tumors and cell lines that also express RANK. This data provides preliminary evidence for a potential autocrine and or paracrine activation pathway in canine OS. An activating effect of exogenous OPG on signal transduction proteins, NFκB and proliferation in OS is described. These data provide new information concerning aberrant signaling in OS and could be important to those considering OPG as a therapeutic agent for osteosarcoma.