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Oncogenesis. 2019 Feb 26;8(3):18. doi: 10.1038/s41389-019-0128-0.

Endogenous arginase 2 as a potential biomarker for PEGylated arginase 1 treatment in xenograft models of squamous cell lung carcinoma.

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Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.
School of Biomedical Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Tai Po, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Bio-cancer Treatment International, 511-513, Bioinformatics Building, Hong Kong Science Park, Tai Po, Hong Kong SAR, China.
Division of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Depletion of arginine induced by PEGylated arginase 1 (ARG1) (BCT-100) has shown anticancer effects in arginine auxotrophic cancers that lack argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS1) and ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC). High levels of endogenous arginase 2 (ARG2) have been previously reported in human lung cancers. Although a high-ARG2 level neither causes immunosuppression nor affects disease progression, it may theoretically affect the efficacy of PEGylated ARG1 treatment. ARG2 was shown to be highly expressed in H520 squamous cell lung carcinoma (lung SCC) xenografts but undetectable in SK-MES-1 and SW900 lung SCC xenografts. We propose that high-endogenous expression of ARG2 could impede the anti-tumor effect of PEGylated ARG1 in lung SCC. The in vivo effect of PEGylated ARG1 was investigated using three xenograft models of lung SCC. PEGylated ARG1 (60 mg/kg) suppressed tumor growth in SK-MES-1 and SW900 but not H520 xenografts. ASS1 was expressed in SK-MES-1 and SW900 xenografts while OTC expression remained low in all xenografts. A high-endogenous ARG2 level was detected only in H520 xenografts. Serum arginine level was decreased significantly by PEGylated ARG1 in all xenografts. Nonetheless intratumoral arginine level was decreased by PEGylated ARG1 in SK-MES-1 and SW900, not H520 xenografts. In SK-MES-1 xenografts, PEGylated ARG1 treatment induced G1 arrest, downregulation of Ki67 and Mcl-1 and activation of apoptosis. In SW900 xenografts, upregulation of Bim and activation of apoptosis were observed upon PEGylated ARG1 treatment. Silencing of ARG2 re-sensitized the H520 xenografts to PEGylated ARG1 treatment, partially mediated through arginine depletion via G1 arrest and apoptosis. PEGylated ARG1 treatment (BCT-100) was effective in lung SCC xenografts with low-endogenous levels of ASS1/OTC and ARG2. High-endogenous ARG2 expression may cause resistance to PEGylated ARG1 treatment in lung SCC xenografts. ARG2 may serve as a third predictive biomarker in PEGylated ARG1 treatment in lung SCC.

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