Molecular analysis of TNF sensitivity in normal and Ha-ras transformed murine fibroblasts

Antonio Fernandez Medarde, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is known to have antiproliferative effects on a wide variety of tumor cells but proliferative effects on normal cells. However, the molecular basis for such differences in the action of TNF are unknown. The overall objectives of my research are to investigate the role of oncogenes in TNF sensitivity and delineate some of the molecular mechanisms involved in TNF sensitivity and resistance. To accomplish these objectives, I transfected TNF-resistant C3H mouse embryo fibroblasts (10T1/2) with an activated Ha-ras oncogene and determined whether these cells exhibit altered sensitivity to TNF. The results indicated that 10T1/2 cells transfected with an activated Ha-ras oncogene (10T-EJ) not only produced tumors in nude mice but also exhibited extreme sensitivity to cytolysis by TNF. In contrast, 10T1/2 cells transfected with the pSV2-neo gene alone were resistant to the cytotoxic effects of TNF. I also found that TNF-induced cell death was mediated through apoptosis. The differential sensitivity of 10T1/2 and 10T-EJ cell lines to TNF was not due to differences in the number of TNF receptors on their cell surface. In addition, TNF-resistant revertants isolated from Ha-ras-transformed, TNF-sensitive cells still expressed the same amount of p21 as TNF-sensitive cells and were still tumorigenic, suggesting that Ha-ras-induced transformation and TNF sensitivity may follow different pathways. Interestingly, TNF-resistant but not sensitive cells expressed higher levels of bcl-2, c-myc, and manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) mRNA following exposure to TNF. However, TNF treatment resulted in a marginal induction of p53 mRNA in both TNF-sensitive and resistant cells. Based on these results I can conclude that (i) Ha-ras oncogene induces both transformation and TNF sensitivity, (ii) TNF-induced cytotoxicity involves apoptosis, and (iii) TNF-induced upregulation of bcl-2, c-myc, and MnSOD genes is associated with TNF resistance in C3H mouse embryo fibroblasts.

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Recommended Citation

Fernandez Medarde, Antonio, "Molecular analysis of TNF sensitivity in normal and Ha-ras transformed murine fibroblasts" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9426534.