Hyperglycemia regulates thioredoxin-ROS activity through induction of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) in metastatic breast cancer-derived cells MDA-MB-231

BMC Cancer. 2007 Jun 7;7:96. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-7-96.


Background: We studied the RNA expression of the genes in response to glucose from 5 mM (condition of normoglycemia) to 20 mM (condition of hyperglycemia/diabetes) by microarray analysis in breast cancer derived cell line MDA-MB-231. We identified the thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), whose RNA level increased as a gene product particularly sensitive to the variation of the level of glucose in culture media. We investigated the kinesis of the TXNIP RNA and protein in response to glucose and the relationship between this protein and the related thioredoxin (TRX) in regulating the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in MDA-MB-231 cells.

Methods: MDA-MB-231 cells were grown either in 5 or 20 mM glucose chronically prior to plating. For glucose shift (5/20), cells were plated in 5 mM glucose and shifted to 20 mM at time 0. Cells were analyzed with Affymetrix Human U133A microarray chip and gene expression profile was obtained. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot was used to validate the expression of TXNIP RNA and protein in response to glucose, respectively. ROS were detected by CM-H2DCFDA (5-6-chloromethyl-2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate) and measured for mean fluorescence intensity with flow cytometry. TRX activity was assayed by the insulin disulfide reducing assay.

Results: We found that the regulation of TXNIP gene expression by glucose in MDA-MB-231 cells occurs rapidly within 6 h of its increased level (20 mM glucose) and persists through the duration of the conditions of hyperglycemia. The increased level of TXNIP RNA is followed by increased level of protein that is associated with increasing levels of ROS and reduced TRX activity. The inhibition of the glucose transporter GLUT1 by phloretin notably reduces TXNIP RNA level and the inhibition of the p38 MAP kinase activity by SB203580 reverses the effects of TXNIP on ROS-TRX activity.

Conclusion: In this study we show that TXNIP is an oxidative stress responsive gene and its expression is exquisitely regulated by glucose level in highly metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / genetics
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • RNA, Neoplasm / biosynthesis
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Thioredoxins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Thioredoxins / genetics
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • TXNIP protein, human
  • Thioredoxins
  • Glucose