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Title: A study of the role of spermidine/spermine N¹-acetyltransferase (SSAT) in polyamine homeostasis in human prostate cancer cells
Author: Li, Jun
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer in men. A large amount of polyamines are synthesised in the human prostate and are involved in prostate cell growth and its physiological functions. The content of intracellular polyamines is closely related to cell growth. An increase in cell growth is accompanied by a rise of intracellular polyamine content, and a depletion of intracellular polyamine pools can cause growth arrest or cell death. Therefore, maintaining polyamine concentrations is critical to the cell. Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) is the first and rate-limiting enzyme in the polyamine catabolic pathway. SSAT gene is highly inducible, with many stimuli including polyamine analogues and some anticancer drugs producing dramatic increases in activity. Many studies have focussed on polyamine analogues as inducers of SSAT activity as increases in SSAT are associated with a growth inhibition in many tumour cells. However, the mechanisms of this inhibition are not fully understood with respect to polyamine content. Additionally, in vivo results in SSAT transgenic mice studies are contradictory. For example, prostate carcinogenesis is reduced in TRAMP mice but Apcmin/+ mice show a promoted intestinal tumorigenesis. It is thus necessary to characterise the regulation of polyamine content and metabolism by SSAT in prostate cancer cells. The aim of the present study was to characterise the role of SSAT in both the growth of LNCaP prostate carcinoma cells and the response of these cells to anticancer drugs. Our hypothesis is that increased SSAT activity will inhibit cell growth and that this is associated with a decrease of intracellular polyamine pools. Furthermore, if SSAT induction is an essential part of the response of cancer cells to anticancer drugs, then altered SSAT activity should affect sensitivity of the cells to the drugs. The present study used a cell culture model of human prostate cancer: LNCaP wild type (WT) and SSAT cDNA transfected prostate carcinoma cell lines. The expression of SSAT in the transfected cell line (SSAT- & SSAT+) was controlled through the “Tet-off” system. This model system provided a background for comparison of effects under basal (WT), low (SSAT-), and high (SSAT+) SSAT activity. Due to our interest in acetylpolyamine derivatives and their low concentrations in cells, a new method for quantifying polyamine concentrations was developed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). This method was highly sensitive and can detect polyamines about 250 fold lower than HPLC, as well as N-acetylpolyamines and N1,N12-diacetylspermine. In addition, a variety of methods were utilised to measure cell growth, enzyme activity, protein expression, polyamine efflux and apoptosis, which includes enzyme assays, western blot, radiochemical labelled assays, flow cytometry, spectrophotometry and fluorescent microscopy. A stable increase in SSAT activity was inhibitory to the cell growth. This inhibition was associated with significant changes in the activity of the polyamine pathway. The alterations included an increase in ODC, APAO, and SMO activity; an accumulation of intracellular N1-acetylspermidine and putrescine; a decrease in intracellular spermidine and spermine; an increased polyamine flux and efflux; and an increase in apoptosis. Combination treatment to the cells with DFMO and MDL72527 partially restored the growth of SSAT+ cells. The original contribution of this study to the field is that the cells with a higher SSAT activity are less sensitive to aspirin and 5-FU, and the sensitivity increased while the overexpressed SSAT activity decreased. The growth inhibition was associated with a depletion of total intracellular polyamine pools by the drug treatments. Moreover, to our knowledge, it is first time that the extracellular polyamine concentrations were quantified by LC-MS in human tumour cells. Overall, an increase in SSAT activity led to an inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth, and vice versa. Thereby, this study suggests that SSAT is a potential target for novel drug discovery for cancer chemotherapy or chemoprevention. For example, a combination treatment could be designed that acts as an inducer of SSAT activity in tumour cells, leading to an inhibition of the cell growth in the first place and increased sensitivity to cytotoxic agents. This would then be followed by an agent to decrease SSAT activity when the sensitivity of cancer cells to the cytotoxic treatment was optimal.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Prostate cancer ; Spermidine ; Spermine