Telomerase Inhibitor TMPyP4 Alters Adhesion and Migration of Breast-Cancer Cells MCF7 and MDA-MB-231

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 May 30;20(11):2670. doi: 10.3390/ijms20112670.


Human telomeres were one of the first discovered and characterized sequences forming quadruplex structures. Association of these structures with oncogenic and tumor suppressor proteins suggests their important role in cancer development and therapy efficacy. Since cationic porphyrin TMPyP4 is known as G-quadruplex stabilizer and telomerase inhibitor, the aim of the study was to analyze the anticancer properties of this compound in two different human breast-cancer MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines. The cytotoxicity of TMPyP4 alone or in combination with doxorubicin was measured by MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromid) and clonogenic assays, and the cell-cycle alterations were analyzed by flow cytometry. Telomerase expression and activity were evaluated using qPCR and telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assays, respectively. The contribution of G-quadruplex inhibitor to protein pathways engaged in cell survival, DNA repair, adhesion, and migration was performed using immunodetection. Scratch assay and functional assessment of migration and cell adhesion were also performed. Consequently, it was revealed that in the short term, TMPyP4 neither revealed cytotoxic effect nor sensitized MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 to doxorubicin, but altered breast-cancer cell adhesion and migration. It suggests that TMPyP4 might substantially contribute to a significant decrease in cancer cell dissemination and, consequently, cancer cell survival reduction. Importantly, this effect might not be associated with telomeres or telomerase.

Keywords: MCF-12A; MCF7; MDA-MB-231; TMPyP4; adhesion; breast cancer; cell cycle; hTERT; migration; telomerase.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Porphyrins / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Porphyrins
  • tetra(4-N-methylpyridyl)porphine
  • Telomerase