Background: Arsenic apparently affects numerous intracellular signal transduction pathways and causes many alterations leading to apoptosis and differentiation in malignant cells. We and others have demonstrated that arsenic inhibits the metastatic capacity of cancer cells. Here we present additional mechanistic studies to elucidate the potential of arsenic as a promising therapeutic inhibitor of metastasis.
Methods: The effects of arsenic trioxide (ATO) on human cervical cancer cell lines migration and invasion were observed by transwell assays. In experimental metastasis assays, cancer cells were injected into tail veins of severe combined immunodeficient mice for modeling metastasis. The mechanisms involved in ATO regulation of CXCR4 were analyzed by immunoblot, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and luciferase reporter assays. Immunohistochemistry was utilized to identify PP2A/C and CXCR4 protein expressions in human cervical cancer tissues.
Results: ATO inhibited CXCR4-mediated cervical cancer cell invasion in vitro and distant metastasis in vivo. We determined that ATO modulates the pivotal nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)/CXCR4 signaling pathway that contributes to cancer metastasis. Substantiating our findings, we demonstrated that ATO activates PP2A/C activity by downregulating miR-520h, which results in IKK inactivation, IκB-dephosphorylation, NF-κB inactivation, and, subsequently, a reduction in CXCR4 expression. Furthermore, PP2A/C was reduced during cervical carcinogenesis, and the loss of PP2A/C expression was closely associated with the nodal status of cervical cancer patients.
Conclusions: Our results indicate a functional link between ATO-mediated PP2A/C regulation, CXCR4 expression, and tumor-suppressing ability. This information will be critical in realizing the potential for synergy between ATO and other anti-cancer agents, thus providing enhanced benefit in cancer therapy.
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