Induction of anoikis and suppression of human ovarian tumor growth in vivo by down-regulation of Bcl-X(L)

A Frankel, K Rosen, J Filmus, R S Kerbel
2001 Cancer Research  
Normal or immortal epithelial cells are sensitive to a form of apoptosis, commonly referred to as anoikis, which is induced by detachment from the extracellular matrix (ECM). In contrast, development of carcinomas is associated with acquisition of cellular resistance to anoikis. However, whether human cancer cells deprived of anoikis resistance necessarily display reduced tumorigenic properties in vivo is unknown. We decided to address this question using human ovarian carcinoma cells as a
more » ... oma cells as a model. Bcl-X(L), an apoptotic factor considered to play an important role in (resistance to) anoikis, is overexpressed in ovarian cancer, and represents an unfavorable prognostic indicator for this type of human malignancy. We therefore evaluated whether Bcl-X(L) can be used as a tool to manipulate anoikis resistance and tumorigenicity of ovarian cancer cells. We show here that when nonmalignant ovarian epithelial cells are detached from the ECM, down-regulation of Bcl-X(L) and apoptotic cell death are observed, although these events do not occur in ovarian carcinoma cells. Moreover, enforced down-regulation of Bcl-X(L) by transfection with antisense cDNA in the anoikis-resistant and highly tumorigenic HEY ovarian carcinoma cell line had no impact on the viability of these cells under adherent conditions but caused significant apoptosis in response to detachment from the ECM. This change was associated with a strong inhibition of tumorigenicity of the Bcl-X(L)-deficient HEY cells in nude mice, both s.c. and in the peritoneal cavity. These results suggest a critical role for Bcl-X(L) in the maintenance of anoikis resistance in ovarian cancer cells. They also serve to establish a functional linkage between this property and the ability of human cancer cells to grow aggressively in vivo. Consequently, targeting molecular mechanisms responsible for anoikis resistance may serve as a potentially effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of such human malignancies as ovarian cancer.
pmid:11406560 fatcat:jfnhopktfbcxzji4txdnel2vme