Amplification of signal transduction capacity and down-regulation by drugs

George Weber, Fei Shen, Hongyuan Yang, Noemi Prajda, Wei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent work in this Laboratory showed increased activity of PI 4-kinase, PIP kinase and PLC in various cancer cells, indicating a stepped-up capacity for signal transduction. This elevated potential was paralleled with increased concentration of the end product of signal transduction, IP3. Current investigations showed that in normal cells the activities of the specific phosphatases (which degrade PIP2 and PIP and oppose those of the synthetic enzymes) were 4 to 5 orders of magnitude higher than those of the synthetic kinases. In hepatoma cells the specific phosphatase activities markedly decreased. Thus, in cancer cells the marked elevations in activities of the synthetic enzymes were opposed by a reduction in the activities of the degradative specific phosphatases. This enzymic imbalance is responsible, in part at least, for the elevated capacity of signal transduction and IP3 concentration. Since the enzymic activities measured were proportionate with time elapsed and amount of enzyme added, the alterations in activities should reflect changes in enzyme amounts. These alterations indicate a reprogramming of gene expression which should confer selective advantages to the cancer cells, marking out the elevated synthetic enzyme activities as potentially sensitive targets for drug treatment. We showed earlier that tiazofurin, which curtailed the biosynthesis of enzymes with short half-lives such as PI and PIP kinases, down-regulated signal transduction and brought down IP3 concentration. Quercetin and genistein chiefly inhibited PI-4 kinase and PIP kinase, respectively, and as a result reduced IP3 concentration in cancer cells. Current studies reveal that tiazofurin with quercetin, tiazofurin with genistein, and quercetin with genistein were synergistic in killing human cancer cells and in reducing signal transduction activity. In estrogen receptor-negative MDA-MB-435 human breast carcinoma cells which have elevated signal transduction activity, tamoxifen caused IC50s for growth inhibition and cytotoxicity of 12 and 0.7 μM, respectively. When tiazofurin was added to breast carcinoma cells, followed 12 hr later by tamoxifen, synergism was observed in growth inhibition, in clonogenic assays and in the reduction of IP3 concentration. The synergistic action of tiazofurin and tamoxifen and the other synergistic drug interactions outlined above may have implications in the clinical treatment of neoplasias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-66
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in Enzyme Regulation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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