Role of redox systems in doxorubicin metabolism and doxorubicin-mediated cell signaling: a computational analysis
Finn, Nnenna Adimora
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Insensitivity to chemotherapy is an ongoing issue in cancer treatment, one that appears to be highly dependent on patient-specific variations. It has been shown clinically that while a subset of patients will successfully respond to a particular chemotherapeutic regimen, there exists another subset of patients who when exposed to the same course of therapy will remain resistant to treatment or exhibit signs of relapse after treatment has been administered. This discrepancy raises interesting questions regarding the role that patient-specific variations play in controlling the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment regimens. Doxorubicin (Dox) is a common chemotherapeutic agent used in the treatment of a variety of solid tumors and leukemias and resistance to Dox treatment is a major issue in cancer chemotherapy, oftentimes leading to patient relapse. To gain a deeper understanding of the processes that influence Dox resistance, we must first understand the mechanisms that underlie and contribute to Dox's toxicity. To this end, the metabolic reactions that activate Dox have been implicated as major determinants of Dox cytoxicity and as possible factors that control Dox resistance in cancer cells. There are several lines of evidence that redox-dependent metabolism plays a large role in Dox toxicity. The Dox bioactivation network is comprised of a system of reduction/oxidation (redox) reactions that lead to the formation of toxic Dox metabolites and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Moreover, multi-drug resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells derived from relapsed patients have elevated levels of the antioxidant glutathione and show insensitivity to Dox treatment. The redox dependence of Dox bioactivation, the understanding that Dox treatment generates ROS, and the evidence that Dox resistant cells exhibit increased antioxidant capacity, suggest the possibility that redox pathways modulate the efficacy of Dox treatment in cancer cells. The overall objectives of the proposed dissertation, therefore, were to investigate how the redox properties of the Dox bioactivation network influence Dox toxicity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells, and to provide evidence that cell-specific variations in the intracellular levels of these redox components influences the degree to which Dox treatment will induce cancer cell death. The significant findings of this study are that the redox reactions involved in Dox metabolism are dual-natured, containing a toxicity-generating module characterized by nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-dependent Dox reductive conversion, as well as an ROS signal-generating module characterized by NADPH- and oxygen-dependent Dox redox cycling. The balance between the coupled redox reactions that comprise the toxicity- and ROS signal-generating modules of Dox bioactivation determines the sensitivity-phenotype of leukemia cells and phenotypic changes in the Dox-sensitivity of leukemia cells can be induced by the successful modulation of the Dox bioactivation network through the pharmacological inhibition of NADPH in a concentration- and cell type-dependent manner. This study highlights the importance of the intracellular redox network in controlling chemotherapy-induced ROS. The unequal distribution in antioxidant burden across the various intracellular antioxidant enzymes suggests a significant role for NADPH supply, as controlled by the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), to the intracellular ROS buffering capacity of cells during instances of oxidative stress. Changes in G6PD activity were shown to promote protein-S-glutathionylation during oxidative stress conditions, thereby implicating G6PD in the modulation of redox-sensitive signal transduction pathways. The intracellular glutathione redox balance, a measure of the intracellular redox environment, can effectively regulate Dox-induced NF-κB signal transduction in leukemia cells. The systematic modulation of intracellular glutathione redox balance in leukemia cells by N-acetylcysteine (NAC) revealed an important role for protein S-glutathionylation mechanisms in the control of NF-κB signal transduction induced by Dox treatment. These findings identify the glutathione redox network as a potential therapeutic target for the systematic modulation of Dox sensitivity in cancer cells and elucidate the complex role that antioxidants such as NAC can play in modulating the effectiveness of Dox chemotherapy treatment regimens. Lastly, this study highlights the need for and the capacity of computational models to accurately describe the complex redox-reactions that contribute to Dox metabolism in leukemia cells. This study is groundbreaking in its use of computational modeling to analyze reversible electron transfer events between proteins using mass-action kinetics. The models developed in this study can accurately explain cytosolic doxorubicin bioactivation, intracellular hydrogen peroxide clearance, and kinase-specific S-glutathionylation, thereby showing that the use of comprehensive and/or relatively simple computational models can provide semi-quantitative predictions about the behavior of redox systems in mammalian cells as they relate to Dox-induced toxicity and Dox-induced cell signaling.