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Statins cause profound effects on gene expression in human cancer cells in vitro: the role of membrane microdomains

Statins cause profound effects on gene expression in human cancer cells in vitro: the role of membrane microdomains

Gene Expression 15(5-6): 225-234

There is increasing evidence that statin treatment can be beneficial in certain cancer patients. To determine if these benefits are a direct result of the cholesterol-lowering effects of statins or a result of secondary, protein transcription effects, the impacts of pravastatin and a cholesterol sequestrating agent methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MbetaCD) on mRNA expression in the breast cancer cell MDA-MB-231 and the lung carcinoma cell Calu-1 have been compared by microarray techniques. The effects of these agents on cholesterol-rich rafts and caveolae, which have significance in cancer signaling, have also been examined. Both treatments caused a general downregulation of not only signal transduction including cancer pathway proteins, but also apoptosis and chemokine pathways, with statins impacting 35 genes by twofold or greater in MDA-MB-231 and > 300 genes in Calu-1. These manifold dysregulations could also explain the various side effects reportedly caused by statins. MbetaCD produced far fewer statistical events than pravastatin in the breast cancer line but many more in the lung cell line. Pravastatin increased expression of CAV1 but caveolae density decreased and overall raft density was unaffected. MbetaCD also caused an increase in CAV1 expression and reduced the prevalence of both rafts and caveolae. It is proposed that sequestration of cholesterol from the membrane by MbetaCD is not equivalent to blockade of the cholesterol pathway and causes different effects on microdomain-mediated signal transduction dependant on the cell line. The profound effects of statins on mRNA expression can be explained by the failure of caveolin-1 to properly complex with cholesterol in an altered sterol environment, with caveolae acting as the main loci for signaling directed towards those transcription processes unaffected by MbetaCD. Targeted inhibition of the postmevalonate pathway could offer an opportunity to specifically reduce caveolae-based signaling in cancer cells. The observed impact of pravastatin on gene expression may explain the pleiotropic effects of statins when they are used as adjuvants in chemotherapy and suggests impact on gene expression as a possible cause of side effects from statin use.

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Accession: 055911975

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PMID: 23539900

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