Methylthioadenosine phosphorylase cDNA transfection alters sensitivity to depletion of purine and methionine in A549 lung cancer cells

Hiroki Hori, Phuoc Tran, Carlos J. Carrera, Yasuko Hori, Michael D. Rosenbach, Dennis A. Carson, Tsutomu Nobori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Methylthioadenosine phosphorylase (MTAP), an enzyme involved in purine and methionine metabolism, is present in all normal tissues but is frequently deficient in a variety of cancers. It has been suggested that this metabolic difference between normal and cancer cells may be exploited to selectively treat MTAP-negative cancers by inhibiting de novo purine synthesis and by depleting L-methionine. However, these therapeutic strategies have only been tested in naturally occurring MTAP-positive and -negative cell lines, which might have additional genetic alterations that affect chemotherapeutic sensitivity. Therefore, it is of importance to examine the feasibility of enzyme-selective treatment using paired cell lines that have an identical genotype except for MTAP status. MTAP-negative A549 lung cancer cells were transfected with eukaryotic expression vectors encoding MTAP cDNA in sense and antisense orientations. The resultant stable transfectomas were treated with inhibitors of de novo purine synthesis such as methotrexate, 5,10- dideazatetrahydrofolate, and L-alanosine and by methionine depletion. The A549 cells transfected with an antisense construct (antisense transfectoma) expressed no MTAP protein and were more sensitive to both purine and methionine depletion than were cells expressing MTAP protein (sense transfectoma). Methylthioadenosine was able to completely rescue the sense transfectoma but not the antisense transfectoma from growth inhibition by depletion of purine and methionine. These results prove that MTAP deficiency contributes directly to the sensitivity of cancer cells to purine or methionine depletion. Inhibition of de novo purine synthesis, combined with methionine depletion in the presence of methylthioadenosine, is a highly selective treatment for MTAP-negative cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5653-5658
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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