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Title: Towards the development of fluorescent probes targeting aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) in cancer : expression and epigenetic modulation of ALDH1A1, ALDH2 and ALDH3A1 in selected in vitro models
Author: Cosentino, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 7483
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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The cancer stem cell (CSC) concept is still very controversial; therefore identification and isolation of this specific population remain challenging. A variety of putative markers have been described and measurement of high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity has been defined as a characteristic of stem cells (SCs). In this study, a library of novel small molecules (1,4-disubstituted acetalanthraquinones, AAQs), containing an acetal group as protected aldehyde functionality, was designed with the aim of probing affinity for ALDH metabolism and demonstrating their potential as molecular fluorescent probes to identify CSCs. The AAQs were shown to be subjective to acidic hydrolysis using 2M HCl at 37ºC; however compounds containing secondary or tertiary amine functionalities in their sidechain were only partly hydrolysed at 70 ºC. Metabolism studies were conducted using cytosolic fractions from rat liver enriched in ALDHs, yeast ALDH and human recombinant ALDH1A1. Some evidence was demonstrated which linked ALDH metabolism with aldehyde functionalities of hydrolysed AAQs (HAAQs). The AAQs were shown to emit far-red fluorescence (600-750 nm). A close relationship between structure modifications and alteration of cellular localisation, with gained specificity for selected sub-cellular compartments were achieved when assessed in A549 and U-2 OS cell lines. Thermal DNA denaturation and chemosensitivity assays were used to obtain information about DNA binding properties and cytotoxicity of AAQs and HAAQ congeners. All compounds were shown to be weak-to-moderately binding to DNA, and symmetrical 1,4-disubstituted compounds were shown to be non-toxic (IC50 = 100 :M) with nonsymmetrical analogues generating IC50 values in the 1-100 :M range. No fundamental variation in the biological activity was observed when comparing AAQs with HAAQs in the A549 (+ALDH) and MCF7 (-ALDH) cell lines. A pilot investigation revealed that aberrant gene methylation was cell-type dependent for three ALDH isoforms (1A1, 2, 3A1). Decitabine treatment led to enhanced protein expression for ALDH1A1 (A549), ALDH2 (MCF7) and ALDH3A1 (A549). In contrast, the protein level was reduced for ALDH1A1 in HT29 cells after decitabine treatment. ALDH1A1, ALDH2 and ALDH3A1 were highly expressed in prostate cell lines, with expression linked to promoter methylation. In contrast, low levels of DNA methylation were found in primary prostate cancer cells and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Interestingly, ALDH1A1, considered a SC marker, was found to be expressed at low levels in CD133⁺/ α₂β₁ hi stem cell fraction and upregulated in CD133⁻/ α₂β₁ lo differentiated prostate cancer cells. In summary, the results in this thesis demonstrate the complexity and tumour type specificity of ALDH expression. This creates challenges for the development of selective probes for CSC isolation, such as the AAQs discussed in this thesis. Although inconclusive results were obtained in regard to AAQs and their potential in targeting ALDHs, selected AAQs were shown to reveal interesting biological features highlighting them as potential non-invasive cytometric probes for tracking molecular interactions in live cells.
Supervisor: Pors, Klaus Sponsor: EPSRC ; Biostatus
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Fluorescent probes ; Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) ; Cancer ; ALDH1A1 ; ALDH2 ; ALDH3A1 ; Cancer stem cell (CSC) concept ; Cytometric probes ; Acetalanthraquinones (AAQs)