Cisplatin and carboplatin are widely used clinical chemotherapeutic agents, especially against testicular, ovarian, and head and neck cancers. O 6-Benzylguanine (BG) has been shown to result in enhanced cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and DNA platination when used in conjunction with cisplatin and carboplatin in head and neck cancer cell lines. Microarray expression data indicated overexpression of 19 genes and underexpression of 22 genes specific to treatment with the combination of BG ± cisplatin compared to cisplatin alone treatment in SQ20b head and neck cancer cells (p < 0.05) using the Affymetrix HG-U133A GeneChip®. Among the overexpressed probe sets were genes involved in DNA damage and apoptosis, including GADD34, DDIT4, ATF4, and PTHLH. A similarly structured analog, 9-CH3-BG, does not enhance cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity or apoptosis nor is there enhanced expression of GADD34 in cisplatin or 9-CH3-BG ± cisplatin-treated cells compared to control cells. Analysis of cells exposed to 9-CH3-BG ± cisplatin allowed us to focus our array list on 32 probe sets specific to BG + cisplatin versus cisplatin, ruling out differentially expressed probe sets common to 9-CH3-BG + cisplatin versus cisplatin. Similarly, 14 probe sets were specific to BG ± cisplatin versus BG, ruling out differentially expressed probe sets common to 9-CH3-BG ± cisplatin versus 9-CH3-BG. Quantitative real-time PCR demonstrated a dose dependent increase in GADD34 expression in cells exposed to BG ± cisplatin with levels approximately >2-fold for cells exposed to BG + cisplatin compared to cisplatin alone. Levels of GADD34 transcripts were determined with both cisplatin and BG + cisplatin at several different time points concomitant with and following drug treatment. At all timepoints, GADD34 transcript levels are approximately two-fold elevated in cells treated with BG + cisplatin compared to cisplatin alone. Furthermore, significant changes in GADD34 expression levels in SQ20b, SCC35, and SCC61 cells, with approximately three-fold, two-fold, and 3.5-fold increases in expression, respectively, upon treatment with BG ± cisplatin compared with control. Elucidation of these molecular pathways will aid in our goal of synthesizing more powerful modulators to increase efficacy of platinum agents.
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