Non-small-cell-lung cancer accounts for 80-85% of all forms of lung cancer as leading cause of cancer-related death in human. Despite remarkable advances in the diagnosis and therapy of lung cancer, no significant improvements have thus far been achieved in terms of patients’ prognosis. Here, we investigated the role of INSL4 – a member of the relaxin-family – in NSCLC. We overexpressed INSL4 in NSCLC cells to analyse in vitro the growth rate and the tumourigenic features. We investigated the signalling pathways engaged in INSL4 overexpressing cells and the tumour growth ability by studying the tumour development in a patient derived tumour xenograft mouse model. We found an INSL4 cell growth promoting effect in vitro in H1299 cells and in vivo in NOD/SCID mice. Surprisingly, in NSCLC-A549 cells, INSL4 overexpression has not similar effect, despite huge basal INSL4-mRNA expression respect to H1299. The INSL4-mRNA analysis of eight different NSCLC-derived cell lines, revealed highly difference in the INSL4-mRNA amount. Transfection of NSCLC lines with INSL4-Myc showed huge level of INSL4-mRNA with a very low amount of protein expressed. Notably, similar discrepancy has been observed in NSCLC patients. However, in a cohort of NSCLC patients analysing a database, we found a significant inverse correlation between INSL4 expression and Overall Survival. By combining the in vitro and in vivo results, suggest that in patients whose NSCLC adenocarcinoma spontaneously expressed high levels of INSL4 post-transcriptional modifications affecting INSL4 do not allow to assess precision therapy in selected patients without consider protein INSL4 amount.
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