Objectives: Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein (IGFBP)-related protein 1 (IGFBP-rP1), a member of the IGFBP super family, was identified as a potent tumor suppressor in several carcinomas. IGFBP-rP1 was down-regulated in primary breast cancer tissues and several breast cancer cell lines but overexpressed in senescent human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), suggesting that IGFBP-rP1 might be a tumor suppressor in breast cancer and the tumor suppressor role of IGFBP-rP1 might be associated with cellular senescence. The aim of the study was to observe the effect of IGFBP-rP1 on cellular senescence and the molecular events mediating this biological effect in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
Methods: DNA fragment-encoding IGFBP-rP1 was cloned in-frame N-terminally to EGFP gene to generate IGFBP-rP1-EGFP fusion protein expression plasmid (pEGFP-IGFBP-rP1). The plasmid pEGFP-IGFBP-rP1 was then transfected into MCF-7 cells, and the proliferation, cell cycle distribution, cellular senescence, and cell cycle-related protein expression of MCF-7 cells were examined by trypan blue exclusion, flow cytometry, senescence-associated galactosidase (SA-β-gal) staining, and Western blot analysis, respectively. Two shRNA plasmid vectors against p21 or p53 gene were constructed and stably transfected into the MCF-7 cells to determine the involvement of p21 or p53 in cellular senescence induced by IGFBP-rP1.
Results: Transfection of IGFBP-rP1 or addition of condition medium (CM) from IGFBP-rP1-transfected cells in MCF-7 cells caused induction of a variety of senescent phenotypes, such as decrease in cell proliferation, increase in G0/G1 cell cycle arrest cells, change in cell morphology, and increase in senescence-associated galactosidase (SA-β-gal) activity. IGFBP-rP1-induced growth arrest is associated with enhanced expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 and dephosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRB). Cell proliferation block and cellular senescence induction in response to IGFBP-rP1 were partially reversed by p21 knockdown in MCF-7 cells. Knockdown of p53 in MCF-7 cells did not influence the growth inhibition, cellular senescence, and p21 expression of the cells in response to IGFBP-rP1 transfection.
Conclusions: Results from this study suggest that cellular senescence induced by IGFBP-rP1 is mediated at least in part by p21 enhanced expression, which regulated through the p53-independent pathway. IGFBP-rP1 might be one of the key molecules that trigger cellular senescence in breast cancer. Restoration of IGFBP-rP1 function might have therapeutic significance in breast cancer.