Receptor-binding cancer antigen expressed on SiSo cells (RCAS1) is a secreted antigen that induces apoptosis in putative receptor-expressing cells, including peripheral lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells. RCAS1 expression is associated with aggressive characteristics and poor overall survival for 15 different human malignancies. The putative RCAS1 receptor has not been isolated and the mechanism of RCAS1 apoptosis induction remains unclear. This study explores how RCAS1 is involved in apoptosis initiation. The cell lines SiSo and MCF-7, human uterine carcinoma and breast adenocarcinoma, respectively, both express RCAS1, but RCAS1 secretion is undetectable in MCF-7 cells. SiSo and MCF-7 cells were stimulated to induce RCAS1 ectodomain shedding followed by assessment of RCAS1 expression and secretion. Additionally, the RCAS1 putative receptor-expressing human chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line K562 was co-cultured with SiSo, MCF-7, or soluble RCAS1 to follow RCAS1 secretion in apoptosis initiation. RCAS1 secretion was strongly suppressed by inhibitors of metalloproteases, protein kinase C (PKC)-Δ, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). K562 apoptosis could be induced only by co-culturing with SiSo or soluble RCAS1. RCAS1 is thus secreted by ectodomain shedding, which may represent a pivotal step in RCAS1-induced apoptosis initiation.
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