[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vitro cell culture experiments with primary cells have reported that cell proliferation is retarded in the presence of ambient compared to physiological O₂ levels. Cancer is primarily a disease of aberrant cell proliferation, therefore, studying cancer cells grown under ambient O₂ may be undesirable. To understand better the impact of O₂ on the propagation of cancer cells in vitro, we compared the growth potential of a panel of ovarian cancer cell lines under ambient (21%) or physiological (3%) O₂.
Our observations demonstrate that similar to primary cells, many cancer cells maintain an inherent sensitivity to O₂, but some display insensitivity to changes in O₂ concentration. Further analysis revealed an association between defective G2/M cell cycle transition regulation and O₂ insensitivity resultant from overexpression of 14-3-3 σ. Targeting 14-3-3 σ overexpression with RNAi restored O₂ sensitivity in these cell lines. Additionally, we found that metastatic ovarian tumors frequently overexpress 14-3-3 σ, which in conjunction with phosphorylated RB, results in poor prognosis.
Cancer cells show differential proliferative sensitivity to changes in O₂ concentration. Although a direct link between O₂ insensitivity and metastasis was not determined, this investigation showed that an O₂ insensitive phenotype in cancer cells to correlate with metastatic tumor progression.