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Cancer Lett. 2002 Dec 10;187(1-2):103-10.

Induction of thymidine phosphorylase by interferon and taxanes occurs only in human cancer cells with low thymidine phosphorylase activity.

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Institute for Applied Oncology, Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., 1-27 Misugidai, Hanno-city, Saitama 357-8527, Japan.


Thymidine phosphorylase (TP) regulates intracellular thymidine metabolism. It has been reported to be a prognostic factor for tumor angiogenesis and to activate some prodrugs of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) to 5-FU. There is also evidence that TP is induced by interferons (IFNs) and xenobiotics, such as cyclophosphamide and taxanes, in experimental human cancer cells and xenografts. We investigated the induction of TP expression by IFNalpha and Paclitaxel in vitro and in vivo in human tumor cells with low and with high TP activity. TP activity in KB, NUGC-3, and KOC2S cells, which had low TP activity, was increased 2 to 4 fold by IFNalpha, but was still lower than in non-treated SHIN-3 and HRA cells, which have high TP activity. IFNalpha did not promote TP activity in SHIN-3 and HRA cells, but expression of TP mRNA increased 2 to 4 fold in response to IFNalpha in all cells tested. These results suggest that the expression of TP protein would be regulated post-transcriptionally by another factor after IFN-induced amplification of TP mRNA. A single dose of Paclitaxel to nude mice xenografted with KB and KM20C tumors, expressing low TP activity, increased TP activity about 4 to 7 fold compared to non-treated tumors. In contrast, TP expression in MX-1 and H-31 tumors was originally high and did not change by the treatment of Paclitaxel. The activities of uridine phosphorylase in all tumors used showed no changes in response to IFNalpha or Paclitaxel. We determined the level of STAT1alpha, an IFN-inducible transcription factor of the TP gene, and found that it was low in low TP expressing tumor cells and markedly increased to about 4 fold by IFN, almost reaching the level in high TP expressing cells whose STAT1alpha level was unchanged by IFN. When TP activity and STAT1alpha expression in clinically resected colorectal cancers were simultaneously measured, almost all tumors had high expression of both TP and STAT1alpha. In conclusion, our results suggest that IFN and Paclitaxel affect human cancer cells with low TP activity but not those with high TP activity and that the STAT1alpha expression may reflect TP activity, at least in experimental human cancer cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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