BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer is characterized by high rates of metastasis and therapeutic resistance. Many chemotherapeutic agents rely on the induction of oxidative stress to cause cancer cell death, thus targeting redox regulation is a promising strategy to overcome drug resistance.
METHODS: We have used a tetracycline-inducible Ets-1 overexpression model derived from 2008 ovarian cancer cells in the present study. To examine the role of Ets-1 in glutathione regulation we have measured intracellular reactive oxygen species and glutathione levels, as well as glutathione peroxidase enzyme activity. Glutathione synthesis was limited using transsulfuration or Sx(c)- pathway blocking agents, and glutamate release was measured to confirm Sx(c)- blockade. Cell viability following drug treatment was assessed via crystal violet assay. Oxidative stress was induced through glucose oxidase treatment, which produces hydrogen peroxide by glucose oxidation. The protein expressions of redox-related factors were measured through western blotting.
RESULTS: Overexpression of Ets-1 was associated with decreased intracellular ROS, concomitantly with increased intracellular GSH, GPX antioxidant activity, and Sx(c)- transporter activity. Under basal conditions, inhibition of the transsulfuration pathway resulted in decreased GSH levels and GPX activity in all cell lines, whereas inhibition of Sx(c)- by sulfasalazine decreased GPX activity in Ets-1-expressing cells only. However, under oxidative stress the intracellular GSH levels decreased significantly in correlation with increased Ets-1 expression following sulfasalazine treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study we have identified a role for proto-oncogene Ets-1 in the regulation of intracellular glutathione levels, and examined the effects of the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine on glutathione depletion using an ovarian cancer cell model. The findings from this study show that Ets-1 mediates enhanced Sx(c)- activity to increase glutathione levels under oxidative stress, suggesting that Ets-1 could be a promising putative target to enhance conventional therapeutic strategies.
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