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Cancer Res. 2000 Jul 1;60(13):3425-8.

Loss of cell cycle control allows selective microtubule-active drug-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation and cytotoxicity in autonomous cancer cells.

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Medicine Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Lack of selectivity in the killing of tumor and normal cells is a major obstacle in cancer therapy. By inhibiting normal but not autonomous cell growth, we exploited the differences in cell cycle regulation to achieve a selective protection of nonautonomous cells against paclitaxel and other microtubule-active drugs. Tubulin polymerization, a primary effect of paclitaxel, can be dissociated from Bcl-2 phosphorylation and cytotoxicity in HL-60 cells. Growth arrest prevented paclitaxel-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation and apoptosis without affecting paclitaxel-induced tubulin polymerization. We abrogated the effects of paclitaxel on MCF-10A immortalized breast cells, while preserving its effects on MCF-7 cancer cells. Unlike MCF-7 cells, MCF-10A cells were arrested by epidermal growth factor withdrawal, precluding paclitaxel-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, the inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor kinase with low doses of AG1478 arrested growth of MCF-10A but not MCF-7 cells. Pretreatment with AG1478 did not affect paclitaxel-induced Bcl-2/Raf-1 phosphorylation in MCF-7 but abrogated such phosphorylation in MCF-10A. Exploitation of growth factor dependency may allow the protection of normal cells from microtubule-active drugs.

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