Abrogation of cisplatin-induced programmed cell death in human breast cancer cells by epidermal growth factor antisense RNA

Mniralini Dixit, Jin Long Yang, Miriam C. Poirier, James O. Price, Paul A. Andrews, Carlos L. Arteaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) perturbation by receptor ligand(s), e.g., epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α), or receptor-specific antibodies accentuates cisplatin-induced toxicity in tumor cells. This sensitization occurs only in tumor cells with high expression of EGF-R but not in those with low expression of EGF-R. Purpose: Therefore, we have studied the role of EGF-R expression on cisplatin-mediated cytotoxicity. Methods: MDA-468 human breast cancer cells were stably transfected with a p-chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (pact[p]-CAT) vector containing a 4.1-kilobase full-length antisense EGF-R complementary DNA. EGF-R content was assessed by 125I-EGF binding and EGF-R immunoblot assays. Cisplatin sensitivity was evaluated by (a) colony-forming assay in vitro, (b) xenograft growth in nude mice, (c) cell cycle distribution of propidium iodide-labeled DNA, (d) DNA fragmentation in agarose gels, and (e) terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (Tdt) fluorescence in situ. Cisplatin uptake was measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy, and the levels of drug-DNA intrastrand adducts were determined by a dissociation-enhanced fluoroimmunoassay that utilizes an antibody against cisplatin-modified DNA. Results: Selected clones (MDA- 468/AS-EGFR) exhibited more than 90% loss of both 125I-EGF binding and receptor content determined by western blot analysis, whereas clones transfected with the vector alone (MDA-468/p-CAT) had EGF-R levels similar to those of the parent cells. By use of a colony-forming assay, the 1-hour IC50 (i.e., the concentration of drug required for 1 hour to achieve 50% cell kill) for cisplatin was 2 μM or less for parental and vector- transfected clones (n = 4), whereas it was 25 μM or more for all MDA- 468/AS-EGFR clones (n = 3). MDA-468/p-CAT clones exhibited internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, enhanced Tdt-end labeling in situ, and G2 arrest 48 hours after a 1-hour incubation with 3-30 μM cisplatin. Under these conditions, apoptosis and G2 arrest were undetectable in all MDA-468/AS-EGFR clones. An MDA-468 subline selected after long-term treatment with a TGF-α-Pseudomonas exotoxin A fusion protein 40 lacked EGF binding and also exhibited cisplatin resistance (1-hour IC50: >30 μM) compared with parental cells. This EGF- R-dependent difference in cisplatin response was confirmed in a nude mouse xenograft model by use of high- and low. EGF-R-expressing cell clones. Total intracellular drug accumulation after a 1-hour cisplatin exposure, as measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy, was identical in both groups of cells. Intrastrand drug-DNA adducts, however, were statistically higher in high EGF-R expressors than in low-EGF-R-expressing clones. Conclusions: These data indicate that a critical level of EGF-R signaling, which is amplified in some common human cancers, is necessary for cisplatin-mediated apoptosis in tumor cells and suggest an inhibitory effect of this pathway on the repair of cisplatin-damaged DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-373
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 5 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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