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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jan 26;282(4):2259-67. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Cancer cell cycle modulated by a functional coupling between sigma-1 receptors and Cl- channels.

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UNSA CNRS UMR 6548, Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire & Moléculaire des Systèmes Intégrés, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France.


The sigma-1 receptor is an intracellular protein characterized as a tumor biomarker whose function remains mysterious. We demonstrate herein for the first time that highly selective sigma ligands inhibit volume-regulated chloride channels (VRCC) in small cell lung cancer and T-leukemia cells. Sigma ligands and VRCC blockers provoked a cell cycle arrest underlined by p27 accumulation. In stably sigma-1 receptor-transfected HEK cells, the proliferation rate was significantly lowered by sigma ligands when compared with control cells. Sigma ligands produced a strong inhibition of VRCC in HEK-transfected cells but not in control HEK. Surprisingly, the activation rate of VRCC was dramatically delayed in HEK-transfected cells in the absence of ligands, indicating that sigma-1 receptors per se modulate cell regulating volume processes in physiological conditions. Volume measurements in hypotonic conditions revealed indeed that the regulatory volume decrease was delayed in HEK-transfected cells and virtually abolished in the presence of igmesine in both HEK-transfected and T-leukemic cells. Moreover, HEK-transfected cells showed a significant resistance to staurosporine-induced apoptosis volume decrease, indicating that sigma-1 receptors protect cancer cells from apoptosis. Altogether, our results show for the first time that sigma-1 receptors modulate "cell destiny" through VRCC and cell volume regulation.

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