Differential Activation of Unfolded Protein Response in Two Osteosarcoma Cell Lines Following Hypoxic and Chemotherapeutic Stress
Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most prevalent primary tumor of bone in the pediatric age group . The long-term cancer free survival has improved in patients with localized cancer; however, less than 20% of patients diagnosed with metastatic disease survive without relapse . While these findings emphasize the urgent need for new therapeutic agents, the lack of understanding of the factors and the tumor microenvironment that lead to therapy resistance in OS has significantly hampered progress towards improved prognosis. Recent clinical reports have shown a negative correlation between tumor hypoxia and overall survival in OS patients . In addition to the up-regulation of hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs), it has been shown that hypoxia can trigger an adaptive response such as the unfolded protein response (UPR) that allows tumor cells to avoid therapy-induced death [3,4,7,10].
Using in vitro experimental models of both SAOS-2 (non-metastatic) and 143-b (metastatic) osteosarcoma cell lines and Western blot analysis, we have demonstrated that basal levels of molecular chaperone BiP (Binding immunoglobulin protein, or GRP-78) and peIF2α (phospho-eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha), both markers of the UPR, were higher in SAOS-2 than 143-b cells. We also show that both these markers were further up-regulated upon exposure to hypoxia, as evidenced by the increase in banding intensity in both SAOS-2 and 143-b cells. Furthermore, analysis of another UPR marker, ATF6 (activating transcription factor 6) showed that basal levels of active nuclear ATF6 were slightly higher in SAOS-2 cells than in 143-b cells. However, unlike the other UPR markers these levels were significantly reduced upon exposure to hypoxia (0.1% O2). In addition to hypoxia, treatment with Cisplatin also had similar effects on the expression of aforementioned UPR markers: BiP and peIF2α. We found that the 143-b OS cells were more sensitive to the Cisplatin treatment than the SAOS-2 OS cells, and thus more prone to cell-mediated death.
Our findings shed light on the unknown mechanisms underlying chemotherapeutic drug resistance in osteosarcoma patients. Our research may lead to novel therapies that seek out and destroy the chemoresistant OS cells within the hypoxia core of tumors, thereby preventing survival and metastasis, and ultimately improving the chances of survival amongst OS patients.