Phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides and G3139 induce apoptosis in 518A2 melanoma cells

Johnathan C. Lai, Luba Benimetskaya, Anastasia Khvorova, Sijian Wu, Emily Hua, Paul Miller, C. A. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a previous study, we showed that G3139, an antisense phosphorothioate oligonucleotide that down-regulates the expression of Bcl-2 protein, did not cause chemosensitization of 518A2 melanoma cells. In this work, we show that G3139, and the 2-base mismatch, G4126, can initiate apoptosis in this and other melanoma cell lines as shown by increased cell surface Annexin V expression, typical nuclear phenotypic changes as assessed by 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining, activation of caspase-3 (but not caspase-8) and Bid, appearance of DEVDase (but not IETDase) activity, and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose)-polymerase 1. Depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane occurs as a relatively late event. All of these processes seem to be substantially, but perhaps not totally, Bcl-2 independent as shown by experiments employing an anti-Bcl-2 small interfering RNA, which as shown previously down-regulated Bcl-2 protein expression but did not produce apoptosis or chemosensitization in melanoma cells. In fact, these G3139-induced molecular events were not dramatically altered in cells that forcibly overexpressed high levels of Bcl-2 protein. Addition of irreversible caspase inhibitors (e.g., the pan-caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk) to G3139-treated cells almost completely blocked cytotoxicity. Examination of the time course of the appearance of caspase-3 and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose)-polymerase 1 showed that this could be correlated with the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria, an event that begins only ∼ 4 hours after the end of the oligonucleotide/LipofectAMINE 2000 5-hour transfection period. Thus, both G3139 and cytotoxic chemotherapy activate the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis in these cells, although Bcl-2 expression does not seem to contribute strongly to chemoresistance. These findings suggest that the attainment of G3139-induced chemosensitization in these cells will be difficult.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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