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Differential tolerance of a cancer and a non-cancer cell line to amino acid deprivation : mechanistic insight and clinical potential

Thomas, Mark Peter (2012-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Introduction – Due to spatial separation from the native vascular bed, solid tumours develop regions with limited access to nutrients essential for growth and survival. The promotion of a process known as macroautophagy may facilitate in the maintenance of intracellular amino acid levels, through breakdown of cytoplasmic proteins, so that they remain available for macromolecular biosynthesis and ATP production. Several studies point to the potential ability of some cancers to temporarily increase autophagy and thereby prolong cell survival during metabolic stress. The validity of these claims is assessed when a commonly used breast cancer cell line and an epithelial breast cell line are starved of amino acids in this study. Furthermore, we go on to hypothesize that acute amino acid deprivation during treatment will result in an elevated sensitivity of MDAMB231 cells to doxorubicin toxicity but limit its cytotoxic side-effects in MCF12A cells. Methods and study design- Human breast cancer cells (MDAMB231) and breast epithelial cells (MCF12A) cultured in complete growth medium were compared to those incubated in medium containing no amino acids. Steady state autophagy levels were monitored using classical protein markers of autophagy (LC3-II and beclin-1) and the acidic compartmentalization in cells (Lysotracker™ red dye) in conjunction with autophagy inhibition (bafilomycin A1 and ATG5 siRNA). Cell viability was monitored using several techniques, including caspase 3/7 activity. ATP levels were assessed using a bioluminescent assay, while mass spectrometry based proteomics was used to quantify cellular amino acid levels. Similar techniques were used to monitor autophagy during doxorubicin treatment, while cellular doxorubicin localization was monitored using immunofluorescence microscopy. Finally, a completely novel GFP-LC3 mouse tumour model was designed to assess autophagy and caspase activity within tumours in vivo, during protein limitation and doxorubicin treatment. Results - Amino acid deprivation resulted in a transient increase in autophagy at approximately 6 hours of amino acid starvation in MDAMB231 cells. The amino acid content was preserved within these cells in an autophagy-dependent manner, a phenomenon that correlated with the maintenance of ATP levels. Inhibition of autophagy during these conditions resulted in decreased amino acid and ATP levels and increased signs of cell death. MCF12A cells displayed a greater tolerance to amino acid starvation during 24 hours of amino acid starvation. Evidence indicated that autophagy was important for the maintenance of amino acid and ATP levels in these cells and helped prevent starvation-induced cell death. Furthermore, data showed that concomitant amino acid withdrawal resulted in decreased cellular acidity in MDAMB231 cells, and increased acidity in MCF12A cells, during doxorubicin treatment. These changes correlated with evidence of increased cell death in MDAMB231 cells, but a relative protection in MCF12A cells. A novel model was used to apply these techniques in vivo, and although mice fed on a low protein diet during high dose doxorubicin treatment had increased mean survival and smaller tumour sizes, evidence suggested that autophagy is protecting a population of cells within these tumours. Conclusions - This novel approach to tumour sensitization could have several implications in the context of cancer therapy, and given the delicate relationship that autophagy has with the cancer microenvironment, efforts to determine the mechanisms involved in autophagy and sensitization could lead to new and innovative treatment opportunities for cancer management.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Inleiding – As gevolg van hul skeiding van die oorpronklike vaskulêre netwerk, ontwikkel soliede gewasse areas met beperkte toegang tot noodsaaklike voedingstowwe. Die bevordering van 'n proses wat as makro-autofagie bekend staan, kan die handhawing van intrasellulêre aminosuur vlakke fasiliteer. Voorafgenoemde proses word waarskynlik deur die afbreek van sitoplasmiese proteïene teweegebring om sodoende vir makro-molekulêre biosintese en ATP produksie beskikbaar te kan wees. Verskeie studies dui daarop dat sommige kankersoorte die vermoë het om autofagie tydelik te verhoog, en daarby sel oorlewing gedurende metaboliese stress te verleng. Die geldigheid van hierdie eise word evalueer wanneer 'n algemeen beskikbare borskanker sellyn, en 'n borsepiteelsellyn in hierdie studie van aminosure verhonger word. Verder, veronderstel ons dat akute aminosuur ontneming gedurende behandeling 'n verhoogde sensitiwiteit van MDAMB231 selle tot doxorubicin toksisiteit tot gevolg sal hê, maar terselfdetyd die middel se sitotoksiese newe-effekte in MCF12A selle sal beperk. Metodes en studie ontwerp – Menslike borskanker- (MDAMB231) en bors epiteel selle (MCF12A) wat in volledige groeimedium gekweek is, is vergelyk met selle wat in aminosuur vrye medium gekweek is. Basislyn autofagie-vlakke is gemonitor deur die gebruik van klassieke autofagie proteïen merkers (LC3-II en beclin-1) en die asidiese kompartementalisering in selle (Lysotracker™ rooi kleurstof) saam met autofagie inhibisie (bafilomycin A1 and ATG5 siRNA). Sellewensvatbaarheid is deur die gebruik van verskeie tegnieke, insluitend caspase 3/7 aktiwiteit, gemonitor. ATP-vlakke is deur die gebruik van 'n bioluminiserende tegniek gemeet, terwyl massa-spektrometrie-gebaseerde “proteomics” gebruik is om sel aminosuur vlakke te kwantifiseer. Soortgelyke tegnieke is gebruik om autofagie gedurende doxorubicin behandeling waar te neem, terwyl sellulêre doxorubicin lokalisasie deur die gebruik van immunofluoresensie mikroskopie gemonitor is. Ten slotte, is 'n unieke GFP-LC3 muismodel in hierdie studie ontwikkel. Hierdie model is gebruik om autofagie en caspase aktiwiteit in gewasse in vivo te bestudeer tydens proteïen beperking en doxorubicin behandeling. Resultate – Aminosuur ontneming het tot 'n tydelike verhoging in autofagie na ongeveer 6 ure van aminosuur verhongering in MDAMB231 selle gelei. Die aminosuur inhoud van hierdie selle het op 'n autofagie-afhanklike manier behoue gebly. Hierdie verskynsel het met die handhawing van ATP-vlakke gekorreleer. Autofagie inhibisie gedurende hierdie kondisies het 'n verlaging in aminosuur en ATP-vlakke teweeggebring, sowel as vermeerderde tekens van seldood tot gevolg gehad. MCF12A selle het 'n groter toleransie tot aminosuur verhongering tydens die 24 uur aminosuur verhongeringsperiode getoon. Getuienis het aangedui dat autofagie belangrik vir die handhawing van aminosuur en ATP-vlakke in hierdie selle was, en gehelp het om verhongerings-geïnduseerde seldood te voorkom. Verder het data gewys dat aminosuur ontrekking tot verminderde sellulêre asiditeit in MDAMB231 selle, en verhoogde asiditeit in MCF12A selle gedurende doxorubicin behandeling gelei het. Hierdie veranderinge stem ooreen met getuienis van toenemende seldood in MDAMB231 selle, maar 'n relatiewe beskerming in MCF12A selle. 'n Unieke model was gebruik om hierdie tegnieke in vivo toe te pas. Alhoewel verhoogde oorlewing en kleiner gewasse in muise op 'n lae proteïen dieet gedurende hoë dosis doxorubicin behandeling opgemerk is, het bewyse voorgestel dat autofagie 'n populasie selle binne die gewasse beskerm. Gevolgtrekkings – Hierdie unieke benadering tot tumor sensitisering kan verskeie implikasies in die konteks van kanker behandeling hê. Gegewe die delikate verhouding van autofagie met die kanker mikro-omgewing, kan pogings om die meganismes betrokke in autofagie en sensitisering te bepaal, tot nuwe en innoverende behandelings vir kanker lei.

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