Regulation of the signal transduction program by drugs

George Weber, Fei Shen, Noemi Prajda, Hongyuan Yang, Wei Li, Albert Yeh, Bela Csokay, Edith Olah, Katherine Y. Look

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The purpose of this paper was to clarify critical aspects of the behavior of signal transduction activity in normal and cancer cells. 1. Signal transduction activity in the conversion of phosphatidylinositol through PI and PIP kinases and PLC to IP3 is regulated at multiple sites. In liver, hepatomas and human carcinomas PIP kinase is the rate limiting enzyme and PLC activity is present in great excess. 2. The steady-state signal transduction activity as measured by the three enzyme activities and IP3 concentration was markedly up-regulated in rat hepatomas of different growth rates. The steady-state specific activities of the three signal transduction enzymes were elevated in ovarian carcinomas as compared to normal ovary. Increased enzyme activities were also observed in human breast carcinoma cells as compared to normal human breast parenchymal cells. In breast, ovarian and rat hepatoma cells as they go through lag, log and plateau phases, IP3 concentration in the early lag phase increased 4.5- to 20-fold and PI and PIP kinase activities peaked in mid-log phase. These events returned to baseline levels in the plateau phase. PLC activity did not change. 3. The bone marrow PI and PIP kinase activities in 3-day starvation were decreased to 13% and IP3 concentration was reduced to 24%; at 1-day refeeding they returned to normal. PLC activity changed little. These alterations are in line with the rapid t 1/4 degradation rates (12 min) of PI and PIP kinases observed in studies with cycloheximide. By contrast, PLC has a long half-life. 4. The molecular action of tiazofurin entails inhibition of IMP DH activity, decrease in GTP and IP3 concentrations, reduction of ras and myc oncogene expression, and signal transduction enzyme activities. These events are followed by induced differentiation and apoptosis. There are also decreases in enzyme activities which have rapid turnover, including TdR kinase, dTMP synthase, and GPRT. In vitro studies indicated that these events are abrogated by addition of guanine which restores GTP concentration. Therefore, most or all these events were brought about by the reduced GTP concentration in the tiazofurin target cells. 5. Quercetin and genistein are able to inhibit PI and PIP kinase activities and reduce IP3 concentration in vivo and in tissue culture systems. These flavonoids are also inhibitors of cell proliferation and clonogenic ability in rat hepatoma 3924A and in human OVCAR-5 and MDA-MB-435 cells. Quercetin down-regulated the expression of c-myc and Ki-ras oncogenes and led to induced differentiation and apoptosis in K562 cells. Genistein reduced IP3 concentration in vivo and in the tissue culture system. Genistein is anti-proliferative and has cytototoxicity in human carcinoma cells. All three drugs, tiazofurin, quercetin and genistein, act, in part at least, through depression of cellular IP3 concentration although the mechanisms may not be identical. 6. Quercetin and genistein, which attack different targets and different phases of the cell cycle, proved to be synergistic in OVCAR-5 cells. The impact of tiazofurin, genistein and quercetin is of interest because the drugs crucially inhibit the display of the neoplastic program of cells and lead to induced differentiation and apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-55
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Enzyme Regulation
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Weber, G., Shen, F., Prajda, N., Yang, H., Li, W., Yeh, A., Csokay, B., Olah, E., & Look, K. Y. (1997). Regulation of the signal transduction program by drugs. Advances in Enzyme Regulation, 37, 35-55.