The secreted proteoglycan decorin has been implicated in the negative control of cell proliferation primarily by virtue of its ability to block transforming growth factor-β. Moreover, decorin expression is markedly up- regulated during quiescence but suppressed upon viral transformation, whereas de novo decorin expression in colon carcinoma cells abrogates the malignant phenotype by arresting the cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Here we show that this decorin-induced growth arrest is associated with up-regulation of p21 mRNA and protein in a transforming growth factor-βand p53-independent pathway. The augmented p21 protein is present as a multimeric complex with various cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases in the nuclei of decorin- expressing cells, thereby leading to suppression of cyclin-dependent kinase activity and block of cell division. Through the usage of decorin-specific antisense oligodeoxynucleotide treatment, we demonstrate that the expression of decorin is closely linked to that of p21 and that abrogation of decorin leads to suppression of p21 and restoration of cell division. Collectively, our results provide a plausible mechanism by which decorin may contribute to retard and suppress the growth of tumor cells in vivo.
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