Reactive oxygen species regulate properties of transformation in UROtsa cells exposed to monomethylarsonous acid by modulating MAPK signaling

Toxicology. 2009 Jan 8;255(1-2):107-14. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.10.007. Epub 2008 Oct 22.


UROtsa cells exposed to 50 nM monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)] for 52 wk (MSC52) achieved hyperproliferation, anchorage independent growth, and enhanced tumorgenicity. MMA(III) has been shown to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to activation of signaling cascades causing stress-related proliferation of cells and even cellular transformation. Previous research established the acute activation of MAPK signaling cascade by ROS produced by MMA(III) as well as chronic up regulation of COX-2 and EGFR in MSC52 cells. To determine if ROS played a role in the chronic pathway perturbations by acting as secondary messengers, activation of Ras was determined in UROtsa cells [exposed to MMA(III) for 0-52 wk] and found to be increased through 52 wk most dramatically after 20 wk of exposure. Ras has been shown to cause an increase in O2(-) and be activated by increases in O2(-), making ROS important to study in the transformation process. COX-2 upregulation in MSC52 cells was confirmed by real time RT-PCR. By utilizing both antioxidants or specific COX inhibitors, it was shown that COX-2 upregulation was dependent on ROS, specifically, O2(-). In addition, because previous research established the importance of MAPK activation in phenotypic changes associated with transformation in MSC52 cells, it was hypothesized that ROS play a role in maintaining phenotypic characteristics of the malignant transformation of MSC52 cells. Several studies have demonstrated that cancer cells have lowered superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) activity and protein levels. Increasing levels of MnSOD have been shown to suppress the malignant phenotype of cells. SOD was added to MSC52 cells resulting in slower proliferation rates (doubling time=42h vs. 31h). ROS scavengers of OH also slowed proliferation rates of MSC52 cells. To further substantiate the importance of ROS in these properties of transformation in MSC52 cells, anchorage independent growth was assessed after the addition of antioxidants, both enzymatic and non-enzymatic. Scavengers of OH, and O2(-) blocked the colony formation of MSC52 cells. These data support the role for the involvement of ROS in properties of transformation of UROtsa cells exposed to MMA(III).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Organometallic Compounds / toxicity*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • monomethylarsonous acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Caspase 3