[Molecular mechanism of chemosensitization to paclitaxel in human melanoma cells induced by targeting the EGFR signaling pathway]

Xiao-jing Zhang, Liang Zhang, Yun-peng Liu, Hui-mian Xu, Ping Sun, Jin-gang Song, Ya-hong Luo
Zhonghua Zhong Liu za Zhi [Chinese Journal of Oncology] 2013, 35 (3): 181-6

OBJECTIVE: To study the molecular mechanism of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway in mediating paclitaxel-resistance and improving paclitaxel sensitivity in human melanoma A375 cells.

METHODS: Human melanoma cell line A375 cells were treated with different concentrations of paclitaxel with or without 20 µmol/L AG1478 (EGFR inhibitor), 40 µmol/L PD98059 (extracellular signal conditioning kinase (ERK) 1/2 blockers) or 10 µmol/L LY294002 (PI3K inhibitor). MTT method was used to measure the proliferation of A375 cells. Flow cytometry was used to detect cell cycle and apoptosis in the A375 cells. The expressions of P-EGFR, P-ERK and P-AKT proteins were determined by Western blot analysis.

RESULTS: Paclitaxel (0.001 µmol/L to 0.1 µmol/L) inhibited the growth of A375 cells (P < 0.01) and induced apoptosis (P < 0.05) in a dose- and time-dependent manner. AG1478 (20 µmol/L) increased the 0.01 µmol/L paclitaxel-induced inhibition rate from 38.5% to 62.6% at 72 h. Different doses of paclitaxel induced apoptosis in A375 cells by different ways, in which G0/G1 phase cells were decreased and mitotic phase was prolonged at 0.01 µmol/L, and cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase by 0.1 µmol/L paclitaxel. When DNA damage occurred in A375 cells exposed to paclitaxel, expression of P-EGFR, P-ERK and P-AKT proteins was increased. When EGFR signaling pathway was blocked, paclitaxel did not activate MAPK signaling pathway or PI3K/AKT signaling pathway and did not change its effect on cell cycle in vitro. When EGFR was inhibited by 20 µmol/L tyrophostin AG1478, the 0.001 and 0.01 µmol/L paclitaxel-induced early apoptosis rate in A375 cells was increased by 1.73- and 1.80-fold, respectively. When the ERK signaling was blocked by 40 µmol/L PD98059, the 0.001 and 0.01 µmol/L paclitaxel-induced early apoptosis rate in A375 cells was increased by 2.73- and 2.25-fold, respectively. When the AKT signaling was blocked by 10 µmol/L LY294002, the 0.001 and 0.01 µmol/L paclitaxel-induced early apoptosis rate in A375 cells was increased by 2.02- and 1.46-fold, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Human melanoma A375 cells produce resistance to paclitaxel (0.001 to 0.1 µmol/L) by activating MAPK signaling and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. Targeting EGFR, ERK and AKT signaling pathways significantly enhances the cytotoxic effect of paclitaxel on human melanoma cells.

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