Barbara A Woynarowska

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, United States

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Publications (13)50.17 Total impact

  • Jan M. Woynarowski, Barbara A. Woynarowska
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    ABSTRACT: Apoptosis is believed to be an important aspect of the anticancer potency of alkylating agents (AAs) and platinum (Pt) complexes. Despite the high clinical utility of these classes of drugs, the nature and determinants of the apoptotic sensitivity/resistance of cancer cells to these agents are not completely understood. One underappreciated aspect is the wide and variable spectrum of cellular targets of AAs and Pt drugs and the complexity of the responses to poly-targeted insults. This chapter discusses the heterogeneity of targeting profiles for diverse drug types and the interdependence of apoptotic routes elicited by the damage to various cellular targets. Although many of these agents target DNA, DNA damage is not the only cause of their apoptotic effects. Drugs that alkylate proteins are strongly apoptotic, even if they do not react with DNA. The ability of alkylating and Pt drugs to damage and inactivate specific proteins and to globally distort the state of the proteome needs to be considered as a self-standing apoptotic stimulus and a factor that enhances lethal responses to DNA damage. Particular emphasis is placed on the significance of drug effects on redox-regulating proteins of the thioredoxin family. Disruption of protein redox homeostasis is likely to be critical for death/survival in response to poly-targeted alkylating and Pt drugs. Differential distortion of redox regulation is suggested as a molecular basis underlying the demonstrated potential of specific drugs such as irofulven and oxaliplatin to promote apoptosis in cancer cells while sparing normal cells.
    12/2006: pages 423-463;
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    ABSTRACT: WMC-79 is a synthetic agent with potent activity against colon and hematopoietic tumors. In vitro, the agent is most potent against colon cancer cells that carry the wild-type p53 tumor suppressor gene (HCT-116 and RKO cells: GI50<1 nmol/L, LC50 approximately 40 nmol/L). Growth arrest of HCT-116 and RKO cells occurs at the G1 and G2-M check points at sublethal concentrations (10 nmol/L) but the entire cell population was killed at 100 nmol/L. WMC-79 is localized to the nucleus where it binds to DNA. We hypothesized that WMC-79 binding to DNA is recognized as an unrepairable damage in the tumor cells, which results in p53 activation. This triggers transcriptional up-regulation of p53-dependent genes involved in replication, cell cycle progression, growth arrest, and apoptosis as evidenced by DNA microarrays. The change in the transcriptional profile of HCT-116 cells is followed by a change in the levels of cell cycle regulatory proteins and apoptosis. The recruitment of the p53-dependent apoptosis pathway was suggested by the up-regulation of p53, p21, Bax, DR-4, DR-5, and p53 phosphorylated on Ser15; down-regulation of Bcl-2; and activation of caspase-8, -9, -7, and -3 in cells treated with 100 nmol/L WMC-79. Apoptosis was also evident from the flow cytometric studies of drug-treated HCT-116 cells as well as from the appearance of nuclear fragmentation. However, whereas this pathway is important in wild-type p53 colon tumors, other pathways are also in operation because colon cancer cell lines in which the p53 gene is mutated are also affected by higher concentrations of WMC-79.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 11/2005; 4(10):1617-27. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Unlike postmitotic cell death, direct premitotic apoptosis diminishes the risk of clonal selection and allows for the elimination of slowly growing cancer cells. This study characterized the ability to induce premitotic apoptosis by irofulven (hydroxymethylacylfulvene), a novel alkylating drug which targets cellular DNA and proteins. Irofulven effects were examined in HeLa-derived BH2 cancer cells with conditional overexpression of antiapoptotic Bcl-2. Cells were synchronized in either early S or in G(1). Following 12 h exposure to irofulven, cells that were originally in early S accumulated in late S or remained in early S phase (at 0.5 and 2.5 muM drug, respectively). Drug treatment of cells in the G(1) cohort prevented their entry into the S phase. Significant apoptosis was detected based on the appearance of sub-G(1) particles and cells with DNA strand breaks in both G(1) and S cohorts. Apoptotic cells were mostly recruited from the G(1)/S border ("G(1)" cohort) and from the S phase ("early S" cohort). All the cell cycle and apoptotic effects were only marginally affected by Bcl-2 overexpression. Similar results were obtained with irofulven-treated synchronized cultures of leukemic CEM cells. Collectively, these observations indicate that irofulven-treated cells become committed to death early. Neither active DNA replication nor traverse through mitosis are necessary for irofulven-induced cell death. The ability to promote direct premitotic apoptosis is likely to play a role in the consistently potent apoptotic effects of irofulven and its ability to cause tumor regression in vivo.
    Cancer biology & therapy 12/2004; 3(11):1137-42; discussion 1143-4. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Targeting topoisomerase II (topo II) is regarded as an important component of the pleiotropic mechanism of action of anthracycline drugs. Here, we show that 4-demethoxy analogues of doxorubicin, including annamycin, exhibit a greater ability to trap topo II cleavage complexes than doxorubicin and some other 4-methoxy analogues. In leukemic CEM cells with wild-type topo II, annamycin induced substantial levels of topo II-mediated DNA-protein cross-links (15-37% of total DNA for 0.5-50 micromol/L drug), whereas doxorubicin-induced DNA-protein cross-links were marginal (0-4%). In CEM/VM-1 cells that harbor mutated, drug-resistant topo II, both 4-methoxy and 4-demethoxy drugs produced marginal DNA-protein cross-links. Annamycin, but not doxorubicin, formed topo II-mediated DNA-protein cross-links also in isolated CEM nuclei. In disparity with the unequal DNA-protein cross-link induction, both drugs induced comparable levels of DNA strand breaks in CEM cells. Compared with CEM, drug cytotoxicity against CEM/VM-1 cells was reduced 10.5- to 13.8-fold for 4-demethoxy analogues but only 3.8- to 5.5-fold for 4-methoxy drugs. Hence, growth inhibition by 4-demethoxy analogues seems more dependent on the presence of wild-type topo II. The enhanced topo II targeting by 4-demethoxy analogues was accompanied by a profound induction of apoptotic DNA fragmentation in leukemic CEM cells. Normal WI-38 fibroblasts, however, were markedly more resistant to annamycin-induced DNA-protein cross-links, apoptosis, and growth inhibition. The enhanced topo II targeting by 4-demethoxy doxorubicin analogues underscores the mechanistic diversity of anthracycline drugs. This diversity needs to be recognized as a factor in responses to drugs such as annamycin and doxorubicin.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 12/2004; 3(11):1403-10. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Irofulven (hydroxymethylacylfulvene) is a novel antitumor drug, which acts by alkylating cellular macromolecular targets. The drug is a potent inducer of apoptosis in various types of tumor cells, whereas it is nonapoptotic in normal cells. This study defined molecular responses to irofulven involving mitochondrial dysfunction and leading to death of prostate tumor LNCaP-Pro5 cells. Irofulven caused early (2-5 hours) translocation of the proapoptotic Bax from cytosol to mitochondria followed by the dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release at 4 to 12 hours. These effects preceded caspase activation and during the first 6 hours were not affected by caspase inhibitors. Processing of caspase-9 initiated the caspase cascade at approximately 6 hours and progressed over time. The activation of the caspase cascade provided a positive feedback loop that enhanced Bcl-2-independent translocation and cytochrome c release. General and specific caspase inhibitors abrogated irofulven-induced apoptotic DNA fragmentation with the following order of potency: pan-caspase > or = caspase-9 > caspase-8/6 > caspase-2 > caspase-3/7 > caspase-1/4. Abrogation of caspase-mediated DNA fragmentation failed to salvage irofulven-treated cells from growth inhibition and loss of viability, demonstrating a substantial contribution of a caspase-independent cell death. Monobromobimane, an inhibitor of alternative caspase-independent apoptotic pathway that is mediated by mitochondrial permeability transition, antagonized both apoptosis, measured as phosphatidylserine externalization, and cytotoxicity of irofulven. Collectively, the results indicate that irofulven-induced signaling is integrated at the level of mitochondrial dysfunction. The induction of both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent death pathways is consistent with pleiotropic effects of irofulven, which include targeting of cellular DNA and proteins.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 11/2004; 3(11):1385-96. · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Platinum anticancer drugs, such as cisplatin, are thought to exert their activity by DNA damage. Oxaliplatin, a clinically active diaminocyclohexane platinum compound, however, requires fewer DNA-Pt adducts than cisplatin to achieve cell growth inhibition. Here we investigated whether secondary DNA damage and apoptotic responses to oxaliplatin compensate for the reduced formation of DNA adducts. Oxaliplatin treatment of leukemic CEM and ovarian A2780 cancer cells resulted in early (4 hr) induction of DNA single-strand breaks measured by nucleoid sedimentation. These infrequent early lesions progress with time into massive double-stranded DNA fragmentation (fragments >50k bp) paralleled by characteristic apoptotic changes revealed by cell morphology and multivariate flow cytometry. Profound oxaliplatin-induced apoptotic DNA fragmentation was detectable following a 24 hr treatment of A2780 and CEM cells with 2 and 10 microM oxaliplatin, respectively. This DNA fragmentation was inhibited completely by the broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk. Cisplatin, which forms markedly more DNA-Pt adducts in CEM and A2780 cells than equimolar oxaliplatin, was similarly potent as oxaliplatin in terms of early strand breaks and later apoptotic responses. Oxaliplatin was also profoundly apoptotic in several other tumor cell lines of prostate origin but had only a marginal effect in normal prostate PrEC cells. Collectively, the results demonstrate that, relative to the magnitude of the primary DNA-Pt lesions, oxaliplatin is disproportionately more potent than cisplatin in the induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis induction, possibly enhanced by a contribution of targets other than DNA, seems to be an important factor in the mechanism of action of oxaliplatin.
    Biochemical Pharmacology 07/2003; 66(2):225-37. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The overexpression of Bcl-2 is implicated in the resistance of cancer cells to apoptosis. This study explored the potential of irofulven (hydroxymethylacylfulvene, HMAF, MGI 114, NSC 683863), a novel DNA- and protein-reactive anticancer drug, to overcome the anti-apoptotic properties of Bcl-2 in HeLa cells with controlled Bcl-2 overexpression. Irofulven treatment resulted in rapid (12hr) dissipation of the mitochondrial membrane potential, phosphatidylserine externalization, and apoptotic DNA fragmentation, with progressive changes after 24hr. Bcl-2 overexpression caused marginal or partial inhibition of these effects after treatment times ranging from 12 to 48hr. Both Bcl-2-dependent and -independent responses to irofulven were abrogated by a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor. Despite the somewhat decreased apoptotic indices, cell growth inhibition by irofulven was unaffected by Bcl-2 status. In comparison, Bcl-2 overexpression drastically reduced apoptotic DNA fragmentation by etoposide, acting via topoisomerase II-mediated DNA damage, but had no effect on apoptotic DNA fragmentation by helenalin A, which reacts with proteins but not DNA. Irofulven retains its pro-apoptotic and growth inhibitory potential in cell lines that have naturally high Bcl-2 expression. Collectively, the results implicate multiple mechanisms of apoptosis induction by irofulven, which may differ in time course and Bcl-2 dependence. It is possible that the sustained ability of irofulven to induce profound apoptosis and to block cell growth despite Bcl-2 overexpression may be related to its dual reactivity with both DNA and proteins.
    Biochemical Pharmacology 03/2003; 65(4):503-13. · 4.58 Impact Factor
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    Barbara A Woynarowska, Jan M Woynarowski
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    ABSTRACT: Elimination of cancer cells by early apoptosis is preferred over other forms of cell growth inhibition. Apoptosis directly leads to tumor regression and reduces risks of selecting more aggressive and/or drug-resistant phenotypes that are often responsible for tumor regrowth and treatment failure. Although DNA damage by anticancer drugs is commonly recognized as an apoptotic stimulus, there is enormous variability in the magnitude and timing of such effects. Especially potent and rapid apoptosis seems to be a hallmark of various alkylating anticancer drugs that are regarded as DNA-reactive agents but are observed to react mainly with cellular proteins. Our studies with such dual-action drugs (irofulven, oxaliplatin) suggest that not only DNA damage, but also protein damage, contributes to apoptosis induction. DNA damage is well known to initiate death-signaling pathways leading to mitochondrial dysfunction. Protein damage, in turn, can distort cell redox homeostasis, which facilitates apoptosis execution. Such dual effects can be particularly lethal to tumor cells, which tend to function under pro-oxidative conditions. In contrast to tumor cells that are highly susceptible, normal cells show marginal apoptotic responses to the dual action drugs. This protection of normal cells might reflect their greater ability to buffer pro-oxidative changes and quickly restore redox homeostasis, despite substantial drug uptake and macromolecular binding. Importantly, by targeting the death process at multiple points, DNA- and protein-damaging drugs can be less vulnerable to various bypass mechanisms possible with single targets. The reviewed studies provide a proof of concept that differential apoptosis targeting in cancer versus normal cells can be a basis for tumor selectivity of anticancer drugs.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 08/2002; 1587(2-3):309-17. · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Caspase-3 deficiency can limit the efficiency of pro-apoptotic anticancer treatments. Irofulven (hydroxymethylacyl-fulvene, HMAF. MGI 114, NSC 683863) is an antitumor drug, currently in a Phase III and multiple Phase II trials, which can differentiate between tumor and normal cells in apoptosis induction. This study investigated whether apoptosis induced by irofulven requires caspase-3. Irofulven action was compared in breast cancer cells differing in caspase-3 status: deficient MCF-7 cells and proficient MDA-MB-231 cells and in normal human mammary epithelial cells, HMEC. Irofulven induces significant, concentration and time-dependent apoptotic DNA fragmentation in breast cancer cell lines, regardless of caspase-3 status. After 12, 24 and 48 h incubation at 1 microM irofulven (approximately 3 x GI50), fragmented DNA comprised 3.7, 14.1 and 34.6% and 8.4, 12.6 and 20.3% of total DNA in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, respectively. Cell viability (trypan blue exclusion) remained largely unaffected during the first 24 h but decreased markedly after 48 h, indicating secondary necrosis. Net losses in cell numbers were apparent at 48 h. Normal HMEC cells were refractory to 1 microM drug with only approximately 3-9% fragmented DNA after 12-48 h, although apoptosis was observed at drug levels >3 microM. The broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk inhibited irofulven-induced apoptosis of all cell lines at 20 microM with nearly complete abrogation of apoptosis at 100 microM. Irofulven treatment resulted in marginal caspase-3 processing in MDA-MB-231 and HMEC cells. These results indicate that whereas the caspase cascade mediates irofulven- induced apoptosis, caspase-3 is dispensable (supported by NIH CA70091 and CA78706).
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 02/2002; 71(2):133-43. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hydroxymethylacylfulvene (HMAF) is a novel agent with alkylating activity and is a potent inducer of apoptosis that is currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials for prostate cancer. This study explored the pro-apoptosis and anti-proliferative potential of HMAF in combination with gamma radiation in human prostate tumor cell lines. Apoptosis was assessed based on the generation of fragmented DNA, a terminal transferase flow cytometry assay, and cell morphology. In each of the tumor cell lines examined, radiation alone induced a marginal level of apoptosis, even after a prolonged 48-h incubation after exposure. In contrast, HMAF alone was a potent inducer of apoptosis in prostate tumor cells but not in normal cells. Marked levels of apoptosis in tumor cells were also observed for the combination of HMAF with gamma radiation. When drug treatment preceded irradiation, at least additive levels of apoptosis were observed in both androgen-responsive and androgen-independent cells. The combined treatment with ionizing radiation and HMAF reduced the radiation dose needed for the same level of clonogenic survival up to 2.5-fold. The potentiation of apoptosis and reduction in the clonogenic survival of tumor cells occurred at HMAF concentrations lower than that which reduced survival to 10% and at doses up to 6 Gy. No potentiation of apoptosis or clonogenic inhibition was noted in normal cells. These results suggest that the combination of HMAF with gamma radiation may have clinical utility for treatments of prostate cancer.
    Radiation Research 11/2000; 154(4):429-38. · 2.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This investigation compared the effects of hydroxymethylacylfulvene (HMAF), a novel antitumor drug with alkylating properties, in eight human tumor (prostate, colon, and leukemia) cell lines, and five human normal (prostate and renal proximal tubule epithelial, colon mucosa, fibroblasts, and endothelial) cell lines. Drug-induced growth inhibition paralleled the uptake of HMAF into both tumor and normal cells, although normal cells were 3- to 4-fold more tolerant to the accumulated drug. In both tumor and normal cells, approximately two-thirds of internalized [(14)C]HMAF-derived radioactivity was bound covalently to macromolecules. Trypan blue exclusion and cell counts indicated that HMAF was cytotoxic in tumor but cytostatic in normal cells. Correspondingly, profound apoptosis was detected in all tumor cell lines examined. A 4-hr treatment with HMAF followed by 20-hr post-incubation induced a potent DNA fragmentation in nearly all tumor lines. Apoptosis-resistant PC-3 and HT-29 cells underwent significant DNA fragmentation after 24 hr of continuous treatment with HMAF. In contrast to tumor cell lines, marginal or very low levels of apoptosis were detected in the normal cells even after prolonged treatments with HMAF at concentrations that exceeded 15- to 800-fold the GI(50) values in tumor cells. This resistance of normal cells to apoptosis could not be accounted for by differences in drug accumulation or drug covalent binding to macromolecules. The qualitatively different responses of the tumor and normal cells studied suggest a greater tolerance of normal cells to HMAF-macromolecular adducts. The demonstrated differential cytotoxic/cytostatic and apoptotic effects of HMAF can be of significance for the clinical use of this promising new agent.
    Biochemical Pharmacology 06/2000; 59(10):1217-26. · 4.58 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Nuclear Medicine - CLIN NUCL MED. 01/1999; 24(3).
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    ABSTRACT: Pilocarpine, a salivary stimulant, has been shown to protect salivary glands from gamma-radiation-induced damage during the radiotherapy of head and neck tumors. This study was performed to determine whether pilocarpine affects the survival of squamous carcinoma cells, line SCC-25, following gamma-radiation treatment. The survival of squamous carcinoma tumor cells, line SCC-25, following the exposure of cells to pilocarpine at concentration of 0-100 ng/ml given for 0-1 h prior to radiation at dose of 0-20 Gy was determined by an in vitro colony-formation assay. The survival fractions of SCC-25 cells were identical for the control and pilocarpine-treated samples at all tested conditions. Calculated Do and Dq values did not depend on the presence of pilocarpine and were not affected by the time of incubation prior to irradiation. Pilocarpine, at clinically relevant concentrations, given to the SCC-25 cells 1 h prior to or at the time of irradiation did not affect survival of SCC-25 cells in vitro. Pilocarpine does not sensitize or protect these tumor cells from the effects of y-radiation, suggesting that this agent should not compromise the tumoricidal effects of radiotherapy.
    International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics 11/1997; 39(3):751-5. · 4.52 Impact Factor