The Cell-Adhesion and Signaling Molecule PECAM-1 is a Molecular Mediator of Resistance to Genotoxic Chemotherapy

Cancer Biology & Therapy. 2006 Dec;5(12):1699-707. Epub 2006 Dec 30. [Link]

Bergom C, Goel R, Paddock C, Gao C, Newman DK, Matsuyama S, Newman PJ.

Blood Research Institute, Blood Center of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Department of Cell Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.


Defects in the regulation of apoptotic pathways have been implicated in the emergence of cancers resistant to chemotherapy-induced cell death. Identification of novel signaling molecules that influence cell survival has the potential to facilitate the development of new cancer therapies. The cell adhesion and signaling molecule, PECAM-1, is expressed in many hematopoietic and endothelial cell malignancies, and has previously been shown to suppress mitochondrial-dependent, Bax-mediated apoptosis. The ability of PECAM-1 to influence tumor cell survival following exposure to chemotherapeutic agents, however, is not known. Here we show that, when overexpressed in HEK293 and REN mesothelioma cells, PECAM-1 confers resistance to apoptosis induced by the DNA-damaging chemotherapeutic agent, etoposide. Surprisingly, PECAM-1-mediated cytoprotection was found to be largely independent of its ability to form a signaling complex with the protein-tyrosine phosphatase SHP-2, as virtually no tyrosine phosphorylation of, or SHP-2 association with, PECAM-1 could be detected after etoposide treatment. Furthermore, PECAM-1 retained its ability to protect against chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in cells with SHP-2 levels significantly reduced using SHP-2-specific siRNA, and in cells in which Erk1/2-a downstream effector of SHP-2-had been inhibited. Finally, to determine whether endogenous PECAM-1 confers resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in lymphoid malignancies and endothelial cells, we used a lentiviral vector to stably express PECAM-1-specific siRNA in the Jurkat leukemia cell line and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). siRNA-expressing Jurkat cells with a 70% reduction of PECAM-1 expression were significantly more sensitive to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. HUVECs with PECAM-1 expression reduced 75% were also markedly more sensitive to chemotherapy-induced cell death. Taken together, these data demonstrate that endogenous PECAM-1 expression on lymphoid cancers confers resistance to apoptosis, and that lowering PECAM-1 expression in lymphoid malignancies can render them more susceptible to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. In addition, reducing PECAM-1 levels in the tumor endothelium may aid in low-dose, anti-angiogenic therapy.