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Adeno-associated virus type 2 infection activates caspase dependent and independent apoptosis in multiple breast cancer lines but not in normal mammary epithelial cells

Samina Alam1, Brian S Bowser1, Michael J Conway2, Mohd Israr1, Apurva Tandon3 and Craig Meyers1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

2 Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

3 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

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Molecular Cancer 2011, 10:97  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-97

Published: 9 August 2011

Abstract

Background

In normal cells proliferation and apoptosis are tightly regulated, whereas in tumor cells the balance is shifted in favor of increased proliferation and reduced apoptosis. Anticancer agents mediate tumor cell death via targeting multiple pathways of programmed cell death. We have reported that the non-pathogenic, tumor suppressive Adeno-Associated Virus Type 2 (AAV2) induces apoptosis in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) positive cervical cancer cells, but not in normal keratinocytes. In the current study, we examined the potential of AAV2 to inhibit proliferation of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-468 (both weakly invasive), as well as MDA-MB-231 (highly invasive) human breast cancer derived cell lines. As controls, we used normal human mammary epithelial cells (nHMECs) isolated from tissue biopsies of patients undergoing breast reduction surgery.

Results

AAV2 infected MCF-7 line underwent caspase-independent, and MDA-MB-468 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines underwent caspase-dependent apoptosis. Death of MDA-MB-468 cells was marked by caspase-9 activation, whereas death of MDA-MB-231 cells was marked by activation of both caspase-8 and caspase-9, and resembled a mixture of apoptotic and necrotic cell death. Cellular demise was correlated with the ability of AAV2 to productively infect and differentially express AAV2 non-structural proteins: Rep78, Rep68 and Rep40, dependent on the cell line. Cell death in the MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 lines coincided with increased S phase entry, whereas the MDA-MB-468 cells increasingly entered into G2. AAV2 infection led to decreased cell viability which correlated with increased expression of proliferation markers c-Myc and Ki-67. In contrast, nHMECs that were infected with AAV2 failed to establish productive infection or undergo apoptosis.

Conclusion

AAV2 regulated enrichment of cell cycle check-point functions in G1/S, S and G2 phases could create a favorable environment for Rep protein expression. Inherent Rep associated endonuclease activity and AAV2 genomic hair-pin ends have the potential to induce a cellular DNA damage response, which could act in tandem with c-Myc regulated/sensitized apoptosis induction. In contrast, failure of AAV2 to productively infect nHMECs could be clinically advantageous. Identifying the molecular mechanisms of AAV2 targeted cell cycle regulation of death inducing signals could be harnessed for developing novel therapeutics for weakly invasive as well as aggressive breast cancer types.

Keywords:
Adeno-Associated Virus Type 2; AAV2; Breast cancer; Pro-apoptotic therapeutics; Apoptosis; Cell cycle; Rep proteins; c-Myc