Arsenic trioxide downregulates specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors and inhibits bladder cancer cell and tumor growth

Exp Cell Res. 2010 Aug 1;316(13):2174-88. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.04.027. Epub 2010 May 8.


Arsenic trioxide exhibits antiproliferative, antiangiogenic and proapoptotic activity in cancer cells, and many genes associated with these responses are regulated by specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors. Treatment of cancer cells derived from urologic (bladder and prostate) and gastrointestinal (pancreas and colon) tumors with arsenic trioxide demonstrated that these cells exhibited differential responsiveness to the antiproliferative effects of this agent and this paralleled their differential repression of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 proteins in the same cell lines. Using arsenic trioxide-responsive KU7 and non-responsive 253JB-V bladder cancer cells as models, we show that in KU7 cells, < or =5 microM arsenic trioxide decreased Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 and several Sp-dependent genes and responses including cyclin D1, epidermal growth factor receptor, bcl-2, survivin and vascular endothelial growth factor, whereas at concentrations up to 15 microM, minimal effects were observed in 253JB-V cells. Arsenic trioxide also inhibited tumor growth in athymic mice bearing KU7 cells as xenografts, and expression of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 was significantly decreased. Inhibitors of oxidative stress such as glutathione or dithiothreitol protected KU7 cells from arsenic trioxide-induced antiproliferative activity and Sp repression, whereas glutathione depletion sensitized 253JB-V cells to arsenic trioxide. Mechanistic studies suggested that arsenic trioxide-dependent downregulation of Sp and Sp-dependent genes was due to decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and induction of reactive oxygen species, and the role of peroxides in mediating these responses was confirmed using hydrogen peroxide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals / pharmacology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Oxides / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sp Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Sp Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Arsenicals
  • Oxides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Sp Transcription Factors
  • Arsenic Trioxide