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Sab Concentrations Indicate Chemotherapeutic Susceptibility In Ovarian Cancer Cell Lines

Iru Paudel, Sean M. Hernandez, Gilda M. Portalatin, Tara P. Chambers, Jeremy W. Chambers

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The occurrence of chemotherapy-resistant tumors makes ovarian cancer (OC) the most lethal gynecological malignancy. While many factors may contribute to chemoresistance, the mechanisms responsible for regulating tumor vulnerability are under investigation. Our analysis of gene expression data revealed that Sab, a mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) scaffold protein, was down-regulated in OC patients. Sab-mediated signaling induces cell death, suggesting that this apoptotic pathway is diminished in OC. We examined Sab expression in a panel of OC cell lines and found that the magnitude of Sab expression correlated to chemo-responsiveness; wherein, OC cells with low Sab levels were chemoresistant. The Sab levels were reflected by a corresponding amount of stress-induced c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) on the MOM. BH3 profiling and examination of Bcl-2 and BH3-only protein concentrations revealed that cells with high Sab concentrations were primed for apoptosis, as determined by the decrease in pro-survival Bcl-2 proteins and an increase in pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins on mitochondria. Furthermore, overexpression of Sab in chemoresistant cells enhanced apoptotic priming and restored cellular vulnerability to a combination treatment of cisplatin and paclitaxel. Contrariwise, inhibiting Sab-mediated signaling or silencing Sab expression in a chemosensitive cell line resulted in decreased apoptotic priming and increased resistance. The effects of silencing on Sab on the resistance to chemotherapeutic agents were emulated by the silencing or inhibition of JNK, which could be attributed to changes in Bcl-2 protein concentrations induced by sub-chronic JNK inhibition. We propose that Sab may be a prognostic biomarker to discern personalized treatments for OC patients.