Abnormal choline phospholipid metabolism is a hallmark of cancer. The magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) detected total choline (tCho) signal can serve as an early noninvasive imaging biomarker of chemotherapy response in breast cancer. We have quantified the individual components of the tCho signal, glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphocholine (PC) and free choline (Cho), before and after treatment with the commonly used chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin in weakly metastatic human MCF7 and triple-negative human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. While the tCho concentration did not change following doxorubicin treatment, GPC significantly increased and PC decreased. Of the two phosphatidylcholine-specific PLD enzymes, only PLD1, but not PLD2, mRNA was down-regulated by doxorubicin treatment. For the two reported genes encoding GPC phosphodiesterase, the mRNA of GDPD6, but not GDPD5, decreased following doxorubicin treatment. mRNA levels of choline kinase α (ChKα), which converts Cho to PC, were reduced following doxorubicin treatment. PLD1 and ChKα protein levels decreased following doxorubicin treatment in a concentration dependent manner. Treatment with the PLD1 specific inhibitor VU0155069 sensitized MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells to doxorubicin-induced cytotoxicity. Low concentrations of 100 nM of doxorubicin increased MDA-MB-231 cell migration. GDPD6, but not PLD1 or ChKα, silencing by siRNA abolished doxorubicin-induced breast cancer cell migration. Doxorubicin induced GPC increase and PC decrease are caused by reductions in PLD1, GDPD6, and ChKα mRNA and protein expression. We have shown that silencing or inhibiting these genes/proteins can promote drug effectiveness and reduce adverse drug effects. Our findings emphasize the importance of detecting PC and GPC individually.
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