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Apoptosis. 1999 Dec;4(6):419-27.

Signalling steps in apoptosis by ether lipids.

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Division of Experimental Therapy, The Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


We have investigated the mechanisms of induction of apoptosis by the antineoplastic ether lipid ET-18-OCH3 (ALP) in sensitive S49wt mouse lymphoma cells and ALP-resistant S49ar variants, both with wild-type p53, and in related L1210 cells with mutated p53. Ether lipid-resistant S49ar cells were cross-resistant to extracellular stress factors (cold shock, heat shock, H2O2, dimethylsulfoxide) and to radiation-induced apoptosis but not to physiological apoptotic signals (dexamethasone, growth factor deprivation, thapsigargin, C2-ceramide) and expressed similar levels of the apoptosis-regulating proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-X, Bax, Bad and Bak as did the parent S49wt cells. The uptake of [3H]-ALP was strongly reduced in the stress-resistant cells but this was not associated with significant differences in membrane cholesterol:phospholipid content nor in membrane microviscosity. In S49ar cells the activity of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) was increased 4-fold and depletion of glutathione with the drug L-buthionine-S-R-sulfoximine (L-BSO) lowered the resistance of S49ar cells to ALP, stress factors and ionising radiation. The results indicate that ether lipids induce apoptosis by imposing a special form of physico-chemical stress, mediated by reactive oxygen species but independent of p53 status. The capacity of glutathione-dependent anti-oxidant defence appeared an important and shared determinant of the sensitivity to ether lipids, several types of extracellular stress and ionising radiation.


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