Leptin promotes invasiveness of kidney and colonic epithelial cells via phosphoinositide 3-kinase-, Rho-, and Rac-dependent signaling pathways

Samir Attoub, Veerle Noe, Luciano Pirola, Erik Bruyneel, Eric Chastre, Marc Mareel, Matthias P. Wymann, Christian Gespach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Citations (Scopus)


Leptin plays a key role regulating food intake, body weight and fat mass. These critical parameters are associated with an increased risk for digestive and mammary gland cancer in the Western population. Here we determined whether leptin contributes to the invasive phenotype of colonic and kidney epithelial cells at various stages of the neoplastic progression. First, leptin potently (EC50 = 10-30 ng/ml) induces invasion of collagen gels by premalignant familial adenomatous colonic cells PC/AA/C1 and nontumorigenic MDCK kidney epithelial cells, their src-transformed counterparts, and the human adenocarcinoma colonic cells LoVo and HCT-8/S11. Leptin and its Ob-Rb receptors were consistently identified by RT-PCR and immunoblottring in these cell lines, as well as in human colonic epithelial crypts, polyps, colonic tumor resections, and adjacent mucosa. Leptin-induced invasion was effectively blocked by pharmacological inhibitors of several downstream signaling pathways involved in cell transformation, namely, JAK2 tyrosine kinase (AG490), phosphoinositide PI3'-kinase (wortmannin and LY294002), mTOR kinase (rapamycin), and protein kinases C (GF109203X, Go6976). Accordingly, leptin induces transient elevation of the PI3'- kinase lipid products in JAK2 immunoprecipitates prepared from parental MDCK cells. The leptin effect on invasion was potentiated by the activated form of the small GTPase RhoA and was abrogated by dominant negative mutants of RhoA, Rac1, and the p110α of PI3'-K. Our data indicate that leptin may exert a local and beneficial effect on migration of normal colonic epithelial cells and reparation of the inflamed or wounded digestive mucosa. We also emphasize a new role for leptin, linking the nutritional and body fat status to digestive cancer susceptibility by stimulating the invasive capacity of colonic epithelial cells at early stages of neoplasia. This finding has potential clinical implications for colon cancer progression and management of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2329-2338
Number of pages10
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Leptin signaling
  • MDCK cells
  • PI3'-kinase
  • Pertussis toxin
  • Wortmannin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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