Purpose: The effects of a heat shock protein (hsp) inhibitor KNK437 (N-formyl-3,4-methylenedioxy-benzylidene-gamma-butyrolactam) were examined on the heat sensitivity and heat tolerance of human cancer cells with special reference to p53 status.
Materials and methods: Human squamous cell carcinoma (SAS) and glioblastoma cell lines (A-172) transfected with mutant p53 (mp53) or control neo genes were used. KNK437 was added in culture medium at a final concentration of 50, 100 or 300 microM 1 h before heating (42 degrees C). Surviving fractions of cells were measured by use of a clonogenic assay. Effects of KNK437 on the accumulation of heat shock proteins and DNA binding activity of heat shock factor 1 were examined with Western blot analysis and gel mobility-shift assay, respectively. Heat-induced apoptotic bodies were detected by Hoechst 33342 staining.
Results: The mp53-transfected SAS (SAS/mp53) and A-172 (A-172/mp53) cells were more resistant to heat than the neomycin (neo)-transfected SAS (SAS/neo) and A-172 (A-172/neo) cells. The constitutive amount of hsp27 was larger in SAS/mp53 than in SAS/neo cells. Clear differences in the constitutive amounts of hsp40, hsp72 and hsp90 were not observed between SAS/mp53 and SAS/neo cells. KNK437 enhanced the heat sensitivity in SAS/mp53 and A-172/mp53 cells more effectively than in neo control cells. Heat tolerance was suppressed by KNK437 in SAS/mp53 and SAS/neo cells and also in A-172/mp53 and A-172/neo cells. Along with suppression of heat tolerance, KNK437 suppressed heat-induced accumulation of both hsp27 and hsp72. Heat-induced apoptotic bodies were enhanced by KNK437 in SAS/mp53 and SAS/neo cells.
Conclusion: The results suggest a possible mechanism for the heat sensitivity of SAS cells. Heat sensitivity depends on p53 status regulating the amount of hsp27. Heat tolerance is suppressed by KNK437 through the suppression of heat-induced accumulations of hsp27 and hsp72 and the induction of p53-independent apoptosis.