CpG oligodeoxynucleotide induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in A20 lymphoma cells via TLR9-mediated pathways

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Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that the anti-cancer activity of CpG-oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG-ODNs) is owing to their immunomodulatory effects in tumor-bearing host. The purpose of this study is to investigate the directly cytotoxic activity of KSK-CpG, a novel CpG-ODN with an alternative CpG motif, against A20 and EL4 lymphoma cells in comparison with previously used murine CpG motif (1826-CpG). To evaluate the potential cytotoxic effects of KSK-CpG on lymphoma cells, cell viability assay, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, DNA fragmentation, Western blotting, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis were used. We found that KSK-CpG induced direct cytotoxicity in A20 lymphoma cells, but not in EL4 lymphoma cells, at least in part via TLR9-mediated pathways. Apoptotic cell death was demonstrated to play an important role in CpG-ODNs-induced cytotoxicity. In addition, both mitochondrial membrane potential decrease and G1-phase arrest were involved in KSK-CpG-induced apoptosis in A20 cells. The activities of apoptotic molecules such as caspase-3, PARP, and Bax were increased, but the activation of p27 Kip1 and ERK were decreased in KSK-CpG-treated A20 cells. Furthermore, autocrine IFN-γ partially contributed to apoptotic cell death in KSK-CpG-treated A20 cells. Collectively, our findings suggest that KSK-CpG induces apoptotic cell death in A20 lymphoma cells at least in part by inducing G1-phase arrest and autocrine IFN-γ via increasing TLR9 expression, without the need for immune system of tumor-bearing host. This new understanding supports the development of TLR9-targeted therapy with CpG-ODN as a direct therapeutic agent for treating B lymphoma.

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