Regulation of apoptosis induced by the retinoid N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide and effect of deregulated bcl-2

D. Delia, A. Aiello, F. Formelli, E. Fontanella, A. Costa, T. Miyashita, J. C. Reed, M. A. Pierotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cancer chemopreventive retinoid N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-all-trans retinamide (HPR) was recently shown by us to have antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on human leukemic cell lines, including those unresponsive to all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). We have now characterized further the process of HPR-induced cell death. We report that inhibitors of RNA transcription and of protein synthesis, activators of protein kinase C (PKC), inhibitors of tyrosine kinases, Zn++, and the antioxidants acetylcysteine, ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and deferoxamine suppressed HPR-induced apoptosis. HL60 cells induced toward monocytic differentiation by 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin-D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], but not those induced toward the granulocytic differentiation by ATRA, showed reduced responses to HPR. The transport of HPR by cells with different sensitivity to the retinoid, however, was similar, even after treatment with the phorbol ester 12-O- tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), which induces unresponsiveness to HPR. The expression of the apoptosis-related genes bcl-2, p53, and c-myc was examined to determine their role in HPR-triggered cell death. The levels of bcl-2 mRNA were markedly diminished by 24 hours of HPR treatment in all cell lines except in the relatively HPR-insensitive line K422. However, probably because of its long half-life, bcl-2 protein levels were either unchanged or only slightly decreased. Downregulation of p53 mRNA was also observed within 24 hours of HPR exposure in NB4 but not K422 cells, but no changes in the amount of p53 protein were found. Suppression of c-myc transcription was observed in all cells except K422. The protective role of bcl-2 on cell death by HPR was investigated in HL60 as well as 697 pre-B leukemia and Jurkat T- acute lymphocytic leukemia (T-ALL) cells constitutively expressing high levels of bcl-2 proteins due to gene transfer manipulation. Compared with control cells, the onset of apoptosis in these cells with deregulated bcl-2 production was delayed by at least 24 hours. These findings establish that cell death by HPR requires RNA transcription and protein synthesis and is regulated by the activation of PKC. Although changes in bcl-2, p53, and c- myc expression are found in cells treated with HPR, the time-course of these events suggests that HPR-triggered apoptosis is not directly controlled by these genes. Finally, while ectopic overexpression of bcl-2 does not protect cells from death by HPR, it markedly delays its onset. This finding, together with the recently reported role of bcl-2 in an antioxidant pathway and with our evidence that antioxidants abrogate the effect of HPR, leads to the hypothesis that HPR may either induce apoptosis, at least in part, by eliciting oxidative stress or that oxidative stress accompanies apoptosis induced by HPR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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