Purpose: Maspin is a tumor suppressor protein that has been reported to stimulate the cell death of cancer and inhibit the metastasis of cancer. The present study aimed to explore the survival pathway by which maspin modulates the resistance of human lung cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, and the consequences of maspin gene therapy in an animal model.
Materials and methods: NCI-H157 and A549 cells were transfected with either a mock vector (pCMVTaq4C), maspin (pCMV-maspin), siControl or siMaspin. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis were performed to study the expressions of survival proteins in lung cancer. cDNA microarray analysis was carried out to compare the maspin-modulated gene expression between the xenograft tumors derived from the lung cancer cells that were stably transfected with pCMVTaq4C or pCMV-maspin. Maspin gene therapy was performed by intra-tumoral injections of pCMVTaq4C or pCMV-maspin into the pre-established subcutaneous tumors in nude mice.
Results: Maspin significantly decreased the survival to doxorubicin and etoposide, whereas did not affect the survival to cisplatin in the NCI-H157 cells. Interestingly, transfection with a maspin plasmid resulted in a significant reduction of the phosphorylation of Akt in the NCI-H157 cells, whereas knockdown of maspin increased the phosphorylation of Akt in the A549 cells. Microarray analysis of the xenograft tumors revealed a specific gene expression profile, demonstrating that maspin is associated with the differential expressions of PTEN and IGF2R. Direct transfer of pCMV-maspin into the tumor significantly retarded the tumor growth in the animal experiments (p=0.0048).
Conclusion: Lung cancer cells lacking maspin could be resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin or etoposide, at least in part by maintaining Akt phosphorylation.
Keywords: Akt; Microarray analysis; SERPIN-B5; Survival.