Arginine deprivation as an anticancer therapy has historically been met with limited success. The development of pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20) has renewed interest in arginine deprivation for the treatment of some cancers. The efficacy of ADI-PEG20 is directly correlated with argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS) deficiency. CWR22Rv1 prostate cancer cells do not express ASS, the rate-limiting enzyme in arginine synthesis, and are susceptible to ADI-PEG20 in vitro. Interestingly, apoptosis by 0.3 μg/mL ADI-PEG20 occurs 96 hours posttreatment and is caspase independent. The effect of ADI-PEG20 in vivo reveals reduced tumor activity by micropositron emission tomography as well as reduced tumor growth as a monotherapy and in combination with docetaxel against CWR22Rv1 mouse xenografts. In addition, we show autophagy is induced by single amino acid depletion by ADI-PEG20. Here, autophagy is an early event that is detected within 1 to 4 hours of 0.3 Mg/mL ADI-PEG20 treatment and is an initial protective response to ADI-PEG20 in CWR22Rv1 cells. Significantly, the inhibition of autophagy by chloroquine and Beclin1 siRNA knockdown enhances and accelerates ADI-PEG20-induced cell death. PC3 cells, which express reduced ASS, also undergo autophagy and are responsive to autophagy inhibition and ADI-PEG20 treatment. In contrast, LNCaP cells highly express ASS and are therefore resistant to both ADI-PEG20 and autophagic inhibition. These data point to an interrelationship among ASS deficiency, autophagy, and cell death by ADI-PEG20. Finally, a tissue microarray of 88 prostate tumor samples lacked expression of ASS, indicating ADI-PEG20 is a potential novel therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.
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