Neurotensin (NTS), a 13–amino acid peptide which is distributed predominantly along gastrointestinal tract, has multiple physiologic and pathologic functions, and its effects are mediated by three distinct NTS receptors (NTSRs). Overexpression and activation of NTS signaling components, especially NTS and/or NTSR1, are closely linked with cancer progression and metastasis in various types of cancers including neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Although deregulation of NTSR3/sortilin has been implicated in a variety of human diseases, the expression and role of NTSR3/sortilin in NETs have not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated the expression and oncogenic effect of NTSR3/sortilin in NETs. Increased protein levels of NTSR3/sortilin were noted in the majority of human clinical NETs (n = 21) by immunohistochemical analyses compared with normal tissues (n = 12). Expression of NTS and NTSR3/sortilin was also noted in all tested NET cell lines. In addition, small interfering RNA–mediated knockdown of NTSR3/sortilin decreased cell number without alteration of cell cycle progression and apoptosis induction in NET cell lines BON and QGP-1. Moreover, silencing of NTSR3/sortilin significantly suppressed cell adhesion and cell migration with inhibition of focal adhesion kinase and Src phosphorylation in the NET cells. Our results demonstrate increased expression of NTSR3/sortilin in NET patient tissues and a critical role of NTSR3/sortilin on NET cell adhesion and migration suggesting that NTSR3/sortilin contributes to NET tumorigenesis.

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Published in Neoplasia, v. 20, no. 2, p. 175-181.

© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Neoplasia Press, Inc.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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We thank the Markey Cancer Center Research Communication Office for manuscript preparation and the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and the Biospecimen Procurement and Translational Pathology Shared Resource Facilities of the Markey Cancer Center (supported by National Cancer Institute [P30 CA177558, B.M.E.]). This work was further supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 DK112034, B.M.E.).