Oncology reports

Selective enhancement of hypoxic cell killing by tempol-regulated suicide gene expression.

PMID 26034980


The presence of hypoxic regions within solid tumors is caused by an imbalance between cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Such regions may facilitate the onset of recurrence after radiation therapy and chemotherapy, as hypoxic cells show resistance to these treatments. We found that tempol, a nitroxide, strongly induces the accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, particularly under conditions of hypoxia. We, therefore, evaluated whether tempol enhances the gene expression via HIF-1α, potentially leading to various applications for cancer gene therapy targeting hypoxic cells. Consequently, following treatment with tempol under hypoxia, the luciferase (Luc) activity in the cells transfected with the plasmid containing the luc gene with the oxygen-dependent degradation domain and a promoter composed of hypoxia-responsive elements increased up to approximately 10-fold compared to that observed in cells treated identically with the exception of tempol. The plasmid constructed by replacing the luc gene with the fcy::fur fusion gene as a suicide gene, strongly induced the accumulation of the Fcy::Fur fusion protein, only when incubated in the presence of the hypoxic mimic CoCl2 and tempol. The transfected cells were successfully killed with the addition of 5-fluorocytosine to the cell culture according to the fcy::fur fusion gene expression. As similar but lesser enhancement of the Luc activity was also observed in solid tumor tissues in nude mice, this strategy may be applied for hypoxic cancer eradication.

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2,2,6,6-Tetramethyl-4-piperidinol, 98%