SM Guichard, ML Hua, P Kang, JS Macpherson, DI Jodrell
Cancer Chemother Pharmacol
Bcl-xL is an anti-apoptotic protein over-expressed in colorectal cancers acting on both the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. We stably expressed four different short hairpin RNA (pSNG-xL1-4) targeting Bcl-xL in HCT 116 cells. HCT 116 pSNG-xL#1 produced a modest (30%) decrease in Bcl-xL expression whilst Bcl-2 levels were similar to the parental cell line, HCT 116 pSNG-xL#2 and 3 showed 50% decrease in Bcl-xL and stable Bcl-2. HCT 116 pSNG-xL#3 showed a concomitant decrease (50%) in Bcl-2. A decrease in Bcl-xL sensitised cells to the small molecule inhibitor of Bcl-xL, Antimycin A3 and the DNA topoisomerase I inhibitors, SN-38 and camptothecin, but not to doxorubicin. HCT 116 pSNG-xL#1 produced a moderate increase in both senescence and apoptosis and a limited increase in SN-38 induced cell death while HCT 116 pSNG-xL#2 produced an increase in apoptosis but reduced senescence. Finally, when both Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 were decreased to a similar degree (HCT 116 pSNG-xL#3), senescence was significantly increased but apoptosis was limited. This effect was confirmed in vivo after administration of irinotecan and was associated with greater anti-tumour effect. Optimal growth inhibitory effect was therefore observed when both Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 were decreased to a similar extent. Antimycin A3, in combination with SN-38 recapitulated this phenotype in HCT 116 cells, suggesting a potential role for small molecule inhibitors of Bcl-xL/Bcl-2 in the treatment of colorectal cancer, potentially in combination with irinotecan.