7,12-Dimethylbenzanthracene induces apoptosis in RL95–2 human endometrial cancer cells: Ligand-selective activation of cytochrome P450 1B1

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7,12-Dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA), a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, exhibits mutagenic, carcinogenic, immunosuppressive, and apoptogenic properties in various cell types. To achieve these functions effectively, DMBA is modified to its active form by cytochrome P450 1 (CYP1). Exposure to DMBA causes cytotoxicity-mediated apoptosis in bone marrow B cells and ovarian cells. Although uterine endometrium constitutively expresses CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, their apoptotic role after exposure to DMBA remains to be elucidated. Therefore, we chose RL95–2 endometrial cancer cells as a model system for studying DMBA-induced cytotoxicity and cell death and hypothesized that exposure to DMBA causes apoptosis in this cell type following CYP1A1 and/or CYP1B1 activation. We showed that DMBA-induced apoptosis in RL95–2 cells is associated with activation of caspases. In addition, mitochondrial changes, including decrease in mitochondrial potential and release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol, support the hypothesis that a mitochondrial pathway is involved in DMBA-induced apoptosis. Exposure to DMBA upregulated the expression of AhR, Arnt, CYP1A1, and CYP1B1 significantly; this may be necessary for the conversion of DMBA to DMBA-3,4-diol-1,2-epoxide (DMBA-DE). Although both CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 were significantly upregulated by DMBA, only CYP1B1 exhibited activity. Moreover, knockdown of CYP1B1 abolished DMBA-induced apoptosis in RL95–2 cells. Our data show that RL95–2 cells are susceptible to apoptosis by exposure to DMBA and that CYP1B1 plays a pivotal role in DMBA-induced apoptosis in this system.

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