Background & aims: Mutations of c-K-ras occur commonly in colonic neoplasms. The aim of this study was to determine how c-K-ras mutations alter the responses to the chemopreventive agent sulindac.
Methods: The parental rat intestinal cell line IEC-18 and c-K-ras-transformed derivatives were treated with sulindac sulfide. Cell cycle distribution was determined by flow-cytometric analysis (fluorescence-activated cell sorter), apoptosis by DNA fragmentation (laddering), flow cytometry, and microscopy, and changes in gene expression by immunoblotting.
Results: Sulindac sulfide inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner more rapidly in and at lower concentrations in parental cells than ras-transformed cells. Expression of the sulindac sulfide arrested cells in G0/G1, but cells entered apoptosis throughout the cell cycle. Proapoptotic protein Bak was relatively high in untreated parental cells and increased markedly after sulindac sulfide but was low in untreated ras-transformed cells and did not increase after sulindac sulfide. Expression of other Bcl-2 family members was unchanged after sulindac sulfide. However, sulindac sulfide reduced levels of cyclin D1 protein and cyclin E- and cyclin D1-associated kinase activity.
Conclusions: c-K-ras-transformed enterocytes are relatively resistant to sulindac sulfide-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis, which may result from specific reduction of bak expression.