Background: Defects in the cell cycle machinery of prostate cancer cells might impair the efficiency of cell cycle checkpoints and affect the cell response to chemotherapeutic drugs. We examined the relationship between the status of microtubule damage-activated checkpoints and the response of hormone-refractory prostate cancer cells to paclitaxel.
Methods: The two cell lines DU145 and PC3 harboring defects at proteins involved in the regulation of checkpoints activated by microtubule damage were examined for cell sensitivity, apoptotic response, and efficiency of checkpoints in response to paclitaxel.
Results: In spite of a comparable sensitivity to the antiproliferative effects of paclitaxel, DU145 and PC3 cells exhibited different cell cycle control at checkpoints activated by microtubule damage. A transient mitotic arrest was induced by the taxane in both cell lines. However, PC3 cells underwent a rapid mitotic slippage and displayed a defective postmitotic checkpoint as evidenced by the appearance of polyploid cells. In this cell line, paclitaxel-induced cell death was a slow and delayed event, occurring also after S-phase re-entry. The mitotic checkpoint appeared to be more stringent in DU145 cells compared to PC3 cells. Moreover, despite the expression of mutated proteins involved in the prevention of DNA endoreduplication (p53, pRb, and p16(INK4A)), these cells did not progress into the cell cycle but efficiently underwent apoptosis by 24 hr. Such a response of DU145 cells was associated with phosphorylation of the p21(WAF1) protein.
Conclusions: These observations evidence that activation of checkpoints following microtubule damage in prostate cancer may be regulated through complex mechanisms possibly involving p21(WAF1). Our findings support that the status of cell cycle checkpoints might affect the modality of cell death. However, the relevance of the mode of cell death for the sensitivity to taxanes remains to be determined.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.