GRP-induced up-regulation of Hsp72 promotes CD16+/94+ natural killer cell binding to colon cancer cells causing tumor cell cytolysis

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Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) and its receptor (GRPR) are not normally expressed by epithelial cells lining the adult human colon. However post malignant transformation both GRP and its receptor are aberrantly expressed in the colon where we have previously shown they act to retard metastasis by enhancing tumor cell attachment to the extracellular matrix. In the present study, we show that GRP signaling via its cognate receptor when both are aberrantly expressed in human colon cancer cells causes heat shock protein 72 (Hsp72) to be expressed. We show that GRP/GRPR induces expression of Hsp72 by signaling via focal adhesion kinase. When expressed, Hsp72 promotes the binding of CD16+ and CD94+ natural killer cells, resulting in tumor cell cytolysis. These findings demonstrate the presence of a novel mechanism whereby aberrantly expressed GRP/GRPR in human colorectal cancer attenuates tumor progression and may promote a favorable outcome.

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