Mechanism of N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (4HPR)-induced apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells

Hyun-Jung Kim, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


4HPR is a synthetic retinoid that has shown chemopreventive and therapeutic efficacy against premalignant and malignant lesions including oral leukoplakia, ovarian and breast cancer and neuroblastoma in clinical trials. 4HPR induces growth inhibition and apoptosis in various cancer cells including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells. 4HPR induces apoptosis by several mechanisms including increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS), or inducing mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). 4HPR has also been shown to modulate the level of different proteins by transcriptional activation or posttranslational modification in various cellular contexts. However, the mechanism of its action is not fully elucidated. In this study, we explored the mechanism of 4HPR-induced apoptosis in HNSCC cells. First, we identified proteins modulated by 4HPR by using proteomics approaches including: Powerblot western array and 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. We found that 4HPR modulated the levels of several proteins including c-Jun. Further analysis has shown that 4HPR induced activation of Activator Protein 1 (AP-1) components, c-Jun and ATF-2. We also found that 4HPR increased the level of Heat shock protein (Hsp) 70 and phosphorylation of Hsp27. Second, we found that 4HPR induced prolonged activation of JNK, p38/MAPK and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). We also demonstrated that the activation of these kinases is required for 4HPR-induced apoptosis. JNK inhibitor SP600125 and siRNA against JNK1 and JNK2 suppressed, while overexpression of JNK1 enhanced 4HPR-induced apoptosis. p38/MAPK inhibitor PD169316 and MEK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 also suppressed 4HPR-induced apoptosis. We also demonstrated that activation of JNK, p38/MAPK and ERK is triggered by ROS generation induced by 4HPR. We also found that translation inhibitor, cycloheximide, suppressed 4HPR-induced apoptosis through inhibition of 4HPR-induced events (e.g. ROS generation, cytochrome c release, JNK activation and suppression of Akt). We also demonstrated that MPT is involved in 4HPR-induced apoptosis. Third, we demonstrated the presence of NADPH oxidase in HNSCC 2B cells. We also found that 4HPR increased the level of the p67phox, a subunit of NADPH oxidase which participates in ROS production and apoptosis induced by 4HPR. The novel insight into the mechanism by which 4HPR induces apoptosis can be used to improve design of future clinical studies with this synthetic retinoid in combination with specific MAPK modulators.

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Recommended Citation

Kim, Hyun-Jung, "Mechanism of N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide (4HPR)-induced apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3148954.