Telomere and microtubule targeting in treatment-sensitive and treatment-resistant human prostate cancer cells

Mol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;82(2):310-21. doi: 10.1124/mol.111.076752. Epub 2012 May 14.


Modulating telomere dynamics may be a useful strategy for targeting prostate cancer cells, because they generally have short telomeres. Because a plateau has been reached in the development of taxane-based treatments for prostate cancer, this study was undertaken to evaluate the relative efficacy of targeting telomeres and microtubules in taxane-sensitive, taxane-resistant, androgen-sensitive, and androgen-insensitive prostate cancer cells. Paclitaxel- and docetaxel-resistant DU145 cells were developed and their underlying adaptive responses were evaluated. Telomere dynamics and the effects of targeting telomeres with sodium meta-arsenite (KML001) (an agent undergoing early clinical trials), including combinations with paclitaxel and docetaxel, were evaluated in parental and drug-resistant cells. The studies were extended to androgen-sensitive LNCaP cells and androgen-insensitive LNCaP/C81 cells. Both P-glycoprotein (Pgp)-dependent and non-Pgp-dependent mechanisms of resistance were recruited within the same population of DU145 cells with selection for drug resistance. Wild-type DU145 cells have a small side population (SP) (0.4-1.2%). The SP fraction increased with increasing drug resistance, which was correlated with enhanced expression of Pgp but not breast cancer resistance protein. Telomere dynamics remained unchanged in taxane-resistant cells, which retained sensitivity to KML001. Furthermore, KML001 targeted SP and non-SP fractions, inducing DNA damage signaling in both fractions. KML001 induced telomere erosion, decreased telomerase gene expression, and was highly synergistic with the taxanes in wild-type and drug-resistant DU145 cells. This synergism extended to androgen-sensitive and androgen-insensitive LNCaP cells under basal and androgen-deprived conditions. These studies demonstrate that KML001 plus docetaxel and KML001 plus paclitaxel represent highly synergistic drug combinations that should be explored further in the different disease states of prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Docetaxel
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage
  • Taxoids / metabolism
  • Telomere / drug effects
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel