Ecteinascidin-743 drug resistance in sarcoma cells: transcriptional and cellular alterations

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A human chondrosarcoma cell line, CS-1, was treated successively with increasing concentrations of the marine chemotherapeutic Ecteinascidin-743 (ET-743), yielding a variant cell line displaying a significant degree of resistance to the cytotoxic action of this drug. Various experiments were performed to discern molecular aberrations between the parent and resistant cell line, and also identify potential molecular markers indicative of drug resistance. Although no significant differences in the levels of membrane transporters such as P-glycoprotein or multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP1) were detected, the cell migratory ability of the ET-743-resistant cell variant was reduced, as was its attachment capability to gelatin-coated cell culture dishes. Staining of the actin-containing cytoskeleton with fluorescent-labeled phalloidin revealed marked differences in the cytoskeleton architecture between the parent and ET-743-resistant CS-1 cell lines. Comparison of serum-free conditioned medium from both cell lines showed conspicuous differences in the levels of several proteins, including a quartet of high molecular weight proteins (≥140 kDa). The protein sequences of two of these high molecular weight proteins, present at significantly higher concentrations in conditioned medium obtained from the parent cell line, corresponded to subunits of types I and IV collagen. Analysis of type I collagen α1 chain mRNA revealed a significantly lower level in the ET-743-resistant CS-1 cell line. Thus, prolonged exposure to ET-743 may cause changes in cell function through cytoskeleton rearrangement and/or modulation of collagen levels.

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