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J Pathol. 2011 Nov;225(3):344-52. doi: 10.1002/path.2904. Epub 2011 May 18.

Active site mutant dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase 1 expression confers an intermediate tumour phenotype in C6 gliomas.

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CRUK and EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centre, The Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Trust, Sutton, Surrey, UK.


Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH) metabolizes the endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthesis, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA). Constitutive over-expression of DDAH1, the isoform primarily associated with neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) results in increased tumour growth and vascularization, and elevated VEGF secretion. To address whether DDAH1-mediated tumour growth is reliant upon the enzymatic activity of DDAH1, cell lines expressing an active site mutant of DDAH1 incapable of metabolizing ADMA were created. Xenografts derived from these cell lines grew significantly faster than those derived from control cells, yet not as fast as those over-expressing wild-type DDAH1. VEGF expression in DDAH1 mutant-expressing tumours did not differ from control tumours but was significantly lower than that of wild-type DDAH1-over-expressing tumours. Fluorescence microscopy for CD31 and pimonidazole adduct formation demonstrated that DDAH1 mutant-expressing tumours had a lower endothelial content and demonstrated less hypoxia, respectively, than wild-type DDAH1-expressing tumours. However, there was no difference in uptake of the perfusion marker Hoechst 33342. Non-invasive multiparametric quantitative MRI, including the measurement of native T(1) and T(2) relaxation times and apparent water diffusion coefficient, was indicative of higher cellularity in DDAH1-expressing xenografts, which was confirmed by histological quantification of necrosis. C6 xenografts expressing active site mutant DDAH1 displayed an intermediate phenotype between tumours over-expressing wild-type DDAH1 and control tumours. These data suggest that enhanced VEGF expression downstream of DDAH1 was dependent upon ADMA metabolism, but that the DDAH1-mediated increase in tumour growth was only partially dependent upon its enzymatic activity, and therefore must involve an as-yet unidentified mechanism. DDAH1 is an important mediator of tumour progression, but appears to have addition roles independent of its metabolism of ADMA, which need to be considered in therapeutic strategies targeted against the NO/DDAH pathway in cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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