Association of anti-apoptotic Mcl-1L isoform expression with radioresistance of oral squamous carcinoma cells
Teni Lab, Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, 410210, India
Radiation Oncology 2012, 7:135 doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-135Published: 8 August 2012
Oral cancer is a common cancer and a major health problem in the Indian subcontinent. At our laboratory Mcl-1, an anti-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family has been demonstrated to be overexpressed in oral cancers and to predict outcome in oral cancer patients treated with definitive radiotherapy. To study the role of Mcl-1 isoforms in radiation response of oral squamous carcinoma cells (OSCC), we investigated in the present study, the association of Mcl-1 isoform expression with radiosensitivity of OSCC, using siRNA strategy.
The time course expression of Mcl-1 splice variants (Mcl-1L, Mcl-1S & Mcl-1ES) was studied by RT-PCR, western blotting & immunofluorescence, post-irradiation in oral cell lines [immortalized FBM (radiosensitive) and tongue cancer AW8507 & AW13516 (radioresistant)]of relatively differing radiosensitivities. The effect of Mcl-1L knockdown alone or in combination with ionizing radiation (IR) on cell proliferation, apoptosis & clonogenic survival, was investigated in AW8507 & AW13516 cells. Further the expression of Mcl-1L protein was assessed in radioresistant sublines generated by fractionated ionizing radiation (FIR).
Three to six fold higher expression of anti-apoptotic Mcl-1L versus pro-apoptotic Mcl-1S was observed at mRNA & protein levels in all cell lines, post-irradiation. Sustained high levels of Mcl-1L, downregulation of pro-apoptotic Bax & Bak and a significant (P < 0.05) reduction in apoptosis was observed in the more radioresistant AW8507, AW13516 versus FBM cells, post-IR. The ratios of anti to pro-apoptotic proteins were high in AW8507 as compared to FBM. Treatment with Mcl-1L siRNA alone or in combination with IR significantly (P < 0.01) increased apoptosis viz. 17.3% (IR), 25.3% (siRNA) and 46.3% (IR plus siRNA) and upregulated pro-apoptotic Bax levels in AW8507 cells. Combination of siRNA & IR treatment significantly (P < 0.05) reduced cell proliferation and clonogenic survival of radioresistant AW8507 & AW13516 cells, suggesting a synergistic effect of the Mcl-1L siRNA with IR on radiosensitivity. Interestingly, during the development of radioresistant sublines using FIR, high expression of Mcl-1L was observed.
Our studies suggest that Mcl-1L isoform has an important role in the survival and radioresistance of OSCC and may be a promising therapeutic target in oral cancers.