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Title: Targeting endoplasmic reticulum stress and autophagy in cancer
Author: Johnson, Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 2226
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2015
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Mammalian/mechanistic target of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) regulates multiple cellular processes, including de novo protein synthesis, autophagy and apoptosis. mTORC1 overactivation occurs in a range of cancers and benign tumour dispositions as a result of mutations which increase mitogenic stimulus or cause malfunction of the tuberous sclerosis complex, the prime regulator of mTORC1 activity. mTORC1 overactivation results in elevated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress which, at low levels, elicits a pro-survival response. However, prolonged or excessive ER stress causes cell death. The present study utilised clinically relevant drug combinations to simultaneously enhance levels of ER stress and inhibit compensatory survival pathways in in vitro models of mTORC1 overactivity in order to cause non-genotoxic cell death. The main drugs used in this study were nelfinavir, an ER stress-inducer, chloroquine, an autophagy inhibitor, and bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor. The key findings of this study include identification of drug combinations nelfinavir and chloroquine, nelfinavir and mefloquine, or nelfinavir and bortezomib to induce significant and selective cell death in mTORC1-driven cells, as measured by flow cytometry with DRAQ7 staining and western blot analysis for cleavage of apoptotic markers. Cell death is likely mediated through ER stress signalling, as shown by increased ER stress markers at both the level of mRNA and protein. Of interest, this study found cell death as a result of combined treatment with nelfinavir was not dependent on proteasome inhibition by nelfinavir, or autophagy inhibition by chloroquine. Additionally, nelfinavir-chloroquine-mediated cell death was completely rescued by inhibition of the vacuolar ATPase by bafilomycin-A1. In conclusion, mTORC1 overactive cells have higher basal levels of ER stress which can be manipulated with drug treatment beyond a survivable threshold, whereas cells capable of reducing mTORC1 signalling are able to survive. This study ascertained a combination of nelfinavir and chloroquine, nelfinavir and mefloquine, or nelfinavir and bortezomib, to cause effective cytotoxicity in mTORC1-driven cells.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)