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Coupled down-regulation of mTOR and telomerase activity during fluorouracil-induced apoptosis of hepatocarcinoma Cells

Author(s): Bu Xinxin | Jia Fengqi | Wang Weifeng | Guo Xianling | Wu Mengchao | Wei Lixin

Journal: BMC Cancer
ISSN 1471-2407

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 208;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Abstract Background Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most invasive and frequently diagnosed malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer death in many regions of Asia. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR signal pathway is involved in multiple cellular functions including proliferation, differentiation, tumorigenesis, and apoptosis. Up-regulation of telomerase activity is thought to be a critical step leading to cell transformation. Methods This study investigated changes in mTOR pathway and telomerase activity in hepatocarcinoma cell line SMMC-7721 treated with chemotherapeutic agent 5-fluorouracil (5-Fu). We detected apoptosis of hepatocarcinoma cells by TUNEL assay. Telomerase activity, hTERT transcription level and p- p70 S6k was demonstrated by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol and silver staining assay, Dual-Luciferase Reporter Assay and Western blot analysis respectively. Results Treating SMMC-7721 cells with 5-Fu leads to apoptosis of the cells, and reduction in telomerase activity, as well as a dramatic reduction in the activated form of p70 S6 kinase, a mTOR substrate. The 5-Fu treatment nearly abolishes transcription of hTERT (the major component of telomerase) mRNA. Treating SMMC-7721 cells with Rapamycin, a specific mTOR inhibitor, significantly reduce hTERT protein level but did not affect hTERT transcription. 5-Fu and rapamycin were synergistic in regards to down-regulation of telomerase activity in hepatocarcinoma cells. Conclusion These results suggest that chemotherapeutic agent 5-Fu may down-regulate telomerase activity at both transcriptional level and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway-dependent post-transcriptional level to facilitate hepatocellular carcinoma cell apoptosis.

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