Caspase 3 in breast cancer.

Department of Medical Oncology, St. Vincent's University Hospital, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.19). 03/2003; 9(2):738-42.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An inability to undergo apoptosis is widely thought to contribute to both tumorigenesis and tumor progression. One of the key mediators of apoptosis is the thiol protease caspase 3. In this investigation, caspase 3 mRNA and protein expression in breast cancer was examined.
Caspase 3 was measured at the mRNA level using reverse transcription-PCR and at the protein level using both Western blotting and activity assays. Levels of apoptosis were determined using an ELISA, which detects nucleosomes released during DNA fragmentation.
Relative levels of caspase 3 mRNA were similar in breast carcinomas (n = 103), fibroadenomas (n = 25), and normal breast tissues (n = 6). However, levels of both the precursor and active forms of caspase 3 were significantly higher in carcinomas compared with both fibroadenomas (P = 0.0188) and normal breast tissues (P = 0.0002). Levels of apoptosis were also highest in the carcinomas and correlated significantly with active caspase 3 levels (r = 0.481; P = 0.0003). In the carcinomas, expression of caspase 3 showed no significant relationship with either tumor size, tumor grade, nodal status, or steroid receptor status but was significantly higher in ductal carcinomas than in lobular carcinomas (P = 0.0188).
We conclude that rates of apoptosis as measured by both caspase 3 activation and nucleosome release are higher in breast cancer than in nonmalignant breast tissue. This finding would appear to conflict with the widely held belief that apoptosis is reduced in malignancy. The proliferation:apoptosis ratio, however, may be higher in carcinomas than in the corresponding normal tissue.

1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oral carcinomas are known to have a greater apoptotic index than normal oral epithelium, evident as shrinking cells with condensed chromatin. In this study, these morphologically apoptotic cells stained positively for cleaved (active) caspase-3. In normal oral epithelium, cleaved caspase-3 positive-cells were only rarely detected. The terminally differentiated surface epithelial layers did not express cleaved caspase-3. The caspase-3 pro-enzyme showed a gradient of expression in normal oral epithelium, decreasing with differentiation. No expression was detectable in surface epithelial layers. Lack of expression of the major 'executioner' caspase-3 may, at least in part, explain differences in morphology between terminally differentiated and apoptotic cells. In cancers of different tissue origins, caspase-3 pro-enzyme expression can be either increased or decreased compared with normal tissue counterparts. To determine how caspase-3 expression alters during oral carcinogenesis, caspase-3 expression was compared in 39 samples of normal oral epithelium and 54 oral squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas had more intense caspase-3 staining than normal epithelium (p < 0.001). Moreover, within the oral squamous cell carcinoma series, there was significantly more intense nuclear and cytoplasmic staining with increasing STNMP stage (p = 0.017 and 0.03, respectively). This was a reflection of significant associations with site (S), palpable lymph nodes (N), and differentiation (P). Both caspase-3 staining intensity and the percentage of cells positive for caspase-3 were inversely associated with differentiation. Studies of the mechanisms by which high levels of caspase-3 expression are tolerated in oral carcinoma cells may identify targets that can be used to harness caspase-3 overexpression for therapeutic benefit.
    The Journal of Pathology 10/2004; 204(2):175-82. DOI:10.1002/path.1630 · 7.33 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing of survivin mRNA gives rise to multiple isoforms, that is, survivin and 3 splice variants, survivin-2B, survivin-3B and survivin-DeltaEx3. The aim of this study was to compare the expression of survivin, survivin-2B and survivin-DeltaEx3 in normal breast tissue, fibroadenomas, primary breast cancer and axillary nodal metastases. Survivin, survivin-2B and survivin-DeltaEx3 mRNA were measured using semiquantitative RT-PCR. In the primary carcinomas, we related mRNA for each form of survivin to both survivin protein and apoptosis. For each type of breast tissue, survivin was the predominant form detected, being present in 146 out of 156 (93.6%) primary breast carcinomas, 11 out of 11 (100%) axillary nodal metastases, 21 out of 31 (67.7%) fibroadenomas and five out of 22 (22.7%) specimens of normal breast tissue. Levels of the three forms of survivin were significantly higher in the carcinomas compared to normal breast tissue (P < 0.0001). Levels of both survivin-2B and survivin-DeltaEx3 but not survivin were significantly higher in nodal metastases than primary carcinomas. Survivin mRNA levels correlated significantly with survivin protein. Finally, both survivin and survivin-DeltaEx3 but not survivin-2B correlated positively with apoptosis. Although survivin, survivin-2B and survivin-DeltaEx3 were all detected in both malignant and nonmalignant breast tissue, the predominant form was survivin. Our results suggest that the different forms of survivin may have different roles in apoptosis in breast cancer.
    British Journal of Cancer 02/2005; 92(1):120-4. DOI:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602314 · 4.82 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this study, the MCF-7 breast cancer cells that lack caspase-3 were transfected with a wild type (WT) or mutant caspase-3 cDNA. Expression of the WT, but not of the mutant, caspase-3 was associated with increased caspase activity and susceptibility to staurosporine (STS)-induced apoptosis. Both derivatives displayed inhibition of cell growth compared with vector control cells. Growth inhibition was associated with increased expression of the cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor p27Kip1 in the WT, but not in the mutant caspase-3 expressing cells. Cyclin D1 expression level was not affected by caspase-3 expression. Phosphorylation of the Akt protein was decreased in both WT and mutant caspase transfected cells, although Akt expression level remained unchanged. These results suggest that caspase-3 might have biological functions independent of its protease activity and that its loss might contribute to tumor development by increasing the growth potential of cancer cells.
    Journal of Cellular Physiology 02/2005; 202(2):478-82. DOI:10.1002/jcp.20149 · 3.87 Impact Factor