Cadmium (Cd) is a widely-disseminated metal which can be imported and accumulated in living cells thereby drastically interfering with their biological mechanisms. Increasing interest has been recently focused on the elucidation of the cellular and molecular aspects of Cd-dependent regulation of gene expression and signal transduction pathways in different model system. Concerning breast cancer, very limited studies have been produced so far on the role played by Cd on estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer cells, that are expected to be insensitive to the already-proven metallo-estrogenic effect exerted by Cd on the estrogen receptor-positive cell counterparts. Here, we have examined the effects of long-term (96 h) exposure of estrogen receptor-negative MDA-MB231 malignant adenocarcinoma cells to CdCl(2) at 5 microM concentration, corresponding to the IC(50) for this time of incubation, by evaluating the expression levels of genes coding for stress response factors (e.g. heat shock proteins and metallothioneins), and for apoptosis-related factors and enzymes. In parallel, we tested the gene expression pattern of immortalized HB2 breast epithelial cells, taken as non-tumoral counterpart, after the same exposure to the metal which instead did not exert any change in their cell number with respect to controls. Our cumulative results indicate that, whilst HB2 cells appear to activate defense mechanisms against metal stress principally via metallothionein massive up-regulation and appearance of the spliced form of XBP-1 message, MDA-MB231 cells seem to couple the onset of a protective reaction (e.g. up-regulation of hsp27 and metallothioneins) to the switching-on of new intracellular pathways directing cells to a kind of death which shares several aspects with the apoptotic program, such as down-regulation of Bcl-2 and over-expression of Dap kinase and several caspases.
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|
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