Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an inhibitor of tumor cell proliferation in both in vitro and in vivo conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of 150 muM GLA on the expression of E2F1, cyclin D1, bax, bcl2, Ku70, and Ku80 in C6 rat glioma cells. The Ku proteins were chosen as previous studies have shown that loss or reduction in their expression causes increased DNA damage and micronucleus formation in the presence of radiation. The fact that GLA exposure is known to enhance the efficacy of radiation treatment raised the question whether the Ku proteins could be involved in this effect as seen for other molecules such as roscovitine and flavopiridol. GLA altered the mRNA expression of E2F1, cyclin D1, and bax, but no changes were found for bcl2, Ku70, and Ku80. Alterations in protein expression were observed for bax, Ku80, and E2F1. The 45% decrease in E2F1 expression was proportional to decreased cell proliferation (44%). Morphological analysis found a 25% decrease in mitotic activity in the GLA-treated cells, which was accompanied by a 49% decrease in S-phase by FACS analysis. A 39% increase in the number of micronuclei detected by Hoechst fluorescence points to GLA's effects on cell division even at concentrations that do not produce significant increases in apoptosis. Most important was the finding that Ku80 expression, a critical protein involved in DNA repair as a heterodimer with Ku70, was decreased by 71%. It is probable that reduced Ku80 is responsible for the increase in micronucleus formation in GLA-treated cells in a similar manner to that found in Ku80 null cells exposed to radiation. The decreased expression of Ku80 and E2F1 could make cells more susceptible to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
(c) 2009 IUBMB IUBMB Life 61(3): 244-251, 2009.