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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 10;8(7):e68366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068366. Print 2013.

Inhibition of β2-microglobulin/hemochromatosis enhances radiation sensitivity by induction of iron overload in prostate cancer cells.

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Uro-Oncology Research Program, Department of Medicine, Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.



Bone metastasis is the most lethal form of several cancers. The β2-microglobulin (β2-M)/hemochromatosis (HFE) complex plays an important role in cancer development and bone metastasis. We demonstrated previously that overexpression of β2-M in prostate, breast, lung and renal cancer leads to increased bone metastasis in mouse models. Therefore, we hypothesized that β2-M is a rational target to treat prostate cancer bone metastasis.


In this study, we demonstrate the role of β2-M and its binding partner, HFE, in modulating radiation sensitivity and chemo-sensitivity of prostate cancer. By genetic deletion of β2-M or HFE or using an anti-β2-M antibody (Ab), we demonstrate that prostate cancer cells are sensitive to radiation in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of β2-M or HFE sensitized prostate cancer cells to radiation by increasing iron and reactive oxygen species and decreasing DNA repair and stress response proteins. Using xenograft mouse model, we demonstrate that anti-β2-M Ab sensitizes prostate cancer cells to radiation treatment. Additionally, anti-β2-M Ab was able to prevent tumor growth in an immunocompetent spontaneous prostate cancer mouse model. Since bone metastasis is lethal, we used a bone xenograft model to test the ability of anti-β2-M Ab and radiation to block tumor growth in the bone. Combination treatment significantly prevented tumor growth in the bone xenograft model by inhibiting β2-M and inducing iron overload. In addition to radiation sensitive effects, inhibition of β2-M sensitized prostate cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents.


Since prostate cancer bone metastatic patients have high β2-M in the tumor tissue and in the secreted form, targeting β2-M with anti-β2-M Ab is a promising therapeutic agent. Additionally, inhibition of β2-M sensitizes cancer cells to clinically used therapies such as radiation by inducing iron overload and decreasing DNA repair enzymes.

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