Heparin-binding protein 17/fibroblast growth factor-binding protein-1 (HBp17/FGFBP-1) has been observed to induce the tumorigenic potential of epithelial cells and is highly expressed in oral cancer cell lines and tissues. It is also recognized as a pro-angiogenic molecule because of its interaction with fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2. In this study, we examined the functional role of HBp17/FGFBP-1
in A431 and HO-1-N-1 cells. Originally, HBp17/FGFBP-1 was purified from A431 cell-conditioned media based on its capacity to bind to FGF-1 and FGF-2. We isolated and established HBp17/FGFBP-1-knockout (KO)-A431 and KO-HO-1-N-1 cell lines using the clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) gene editing technology. The amount of FGF-2 secreted into conditioned medium decreased for A431-HBp17-KO and HO-1-N-1-HBp17-KO cells compared to their WT counterparts. Functional assessment showed that HBp17/FGFBP-1
KO inhibited cell proliferation, colony formation, and cell motility in vitro. It also inhibited tumor growth in vivo compared to controls, which confirmed the significant difference in growth in vitro between HBp17-KO cells and wild-type (WT) cells, indicating that HBp17/FGFBP-1 is a potent therapeutic target in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC). In addition, complementary DNA/protein expression analysis followed by Gene Ontology and protein–protein interaction (PPI) analysis using the Database for Visualization and Integrated Discovery and Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins showed that both gene and protein expression related to epidermal development, cornification, and keratinization were upregulated in A431-HBp17-KO and HO-1-N-1-KO cells. This is the first discovery of a novel role of HBp17/FGFBP-1 that regulates SCC and OSCC cell differentiation.
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