A Novel Human Ghrelin Variant (In1-Ghrelin) and Ghrelin-O-Acyltransferase Are Overexpressed in Breast Cancer: Potential Pathophysiological Relevance
journal contributionposted on 16.08.2012, 00:00 by Manuel D. Gahete, José Córdoba-Chacón, Marta Hergueta-Redondo, Antonio J. Martínez-Fuentes, Rhonda D. Kineman, Gema Moreno-Bueno, Raúl M. Luque, Justo P. Castaño
The human ghrelin gene, which encodes the ghrelin and obestatin peptides, contains 5 exons (Ex), with Ex1-Ex4 encoding a 117 amino-acid (aa) preproprotein that is known to be processed to yield a 28-aa (ghrelin) and/or a 23-aa (obestatin) mature peptides, which possess biological activities in multiple tissues. However, the ghrelin gene also encodes additional peptides through alternative splicing or post-translational modifications. Indeed, we previously identified a spliced mRNA ghrelin variant in mouse (In2-ghrelin-variant), which is regulated in a tissue-dependent manner by metabolic status and may thus be of biological relevance. Here, we have characterized a new human ghrelin variant that contains Ex0-1, intron (In) 1, and Ex2 and lacks Ex3-4. This human In1-ghrelin variant would encode a new prepropeptide that conserves the first 12aa of native-ghrelin (including the Ser3-potential octanoylation site) but has a different C-terminal tail. Expression of In1-variant was detected in 22 human tissues and its levels were positively correlated with those of ghrelin-O-acyltransferase (GOAT; p = 0.0001) but not with native-ghrelin expression, suggesting that In1-ghrelin could be a primary substrate for GOAT in human tissues. Interestingly, levels of In1-ghrelin variant expression in breast cancer samples were 8-times higher than those of normal mammary tissue, and showed a strong correlation in breast tumors with GOAT (p = 0.0001), ghrelin receptor-type 1b (GHSR1b; p = 0.049) and cyclin-D3 (a cell-cycle inducer/proliferation marker; p = 0.009), but not with native-ghrelin or GHSR1a expression. Interestingly, In1-ghrelin variant overexpression increased basal proliferation of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Taken together, our results provide evidence that In1-ghrelin is a novel element of the ghrelin family with a potential pathophysiological role in breast cancer.