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Br J Cancer. 2003 Feb 24;88(4):624-9.

Constitutive nuclear factor-kappa B mRNA, protein overexpression and enhanced DNA-binding activity in thymidylate synthase inhibitor-resistant tumour cells.

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Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, UK.


In this study, the gene copy number, mRNA and protein expression levels and nuclear DNA-binding activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa B) were compared in a panel of five pairs of thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor-resistant and wild-type parent cancer cell lines. High constitutive NF-kappa B DNA-binding activity was detected in all chemoresistant cell lines. The upregulated NF-kappa B activity was composed of NF-kappa B subunits p50 and p65. Four out of five resistant cell lines constitutively overexpressed NF-kappa B p50 and p65 mRNA and protein. One resistant cell line with the highest NF-kappa B DNA-binding activity showed normal p50 and p65 protein expression. No NF-kappa B gene amplification was detected in resistant cell lines. Transient exposure of wild-type RKO(WT) and H630(WT) cells to 5-FU induced NF-kappa B DNA-binding activity but had no effect on NF-kappa B protein expression in these cells. Our results indicate that high constitutive NF-kappa B activity caused by its gene overexpression is an intrinsic character of TS inhibitor-resistant cells. NF-kappa B can antagonise anticancer drug-induced apoptosis. High NF-kappa B expression and nuclear activity in TS inhibitor-resistant cancer cells may play an important role in the chemoresistance.

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