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Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Feb;7(2):314-29. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2150.

Regulation of GST-MDA-7 toxicity in human glioblastoma cells by ERBB1, ERK1/2, PI3K, and JNK1-3 pathway signaling.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0035, USA.


The present studies defined the biological effects of a GST fusion protein of melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7 (mda-7), GST-MDA-7 (1 and 30 nmol/L), on cell survival and cell signaling in primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7, in a dose- and time-dependent fashion killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics; 1 nmol/L caused arrest without death, whereas 30 nmol/L caused arrest and killing after exposure. Combined inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and AKT function was required to enhance 1 nmol/L GST-MDA-7 lethality in all cell types, whereas combined activation of MEK1 and AKT was required to suppress 30 nmol/L GST-MDA-7 lethality; both effects are mediated in part by modulating c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) 1-3 activity. The geldanamycin 17AAG inhibited AKT and ERK1/2 in GBM cells and enhanced GST-MDA-7 lethality. JNK1-3 signaling promoted BAX activation and mitochondrial dysfunction. In GBM6 cells, GST-MDA-7 (30 nmol/L) transiently activated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, which was modestly protective against JNK1-3-induced toxicity, whereas GST-MDA-7 (300 nmol/L) caused prolonged intense p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, which promoted cell death. In GBM12 cells that express full-length mutant activated ERBB1, inhibition of ERBB1 did not modify GST-MDA-7 lethality; however, in U118 established glioma cells, stable overexpression of wild-type ERBB1 and/or truncated active ERBB1vIII suppressed GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data argue that combined inhibition of ERK1/2 and AKT function, regardless of genetic background, promotes MDA-7 lethality in human primary human glioma cells via JNK1-3 signaling and is likely to represent a more ubiquitous approach to enhancing MDA-7 toxicity in this cell type than inhibition of ERBB1 function.

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