p38 and ERK MAP KinaseMediates Iron Chelator-induced Apoptosis and -suppressed Differentiation of Immortalized and Malignant Human Oral Keratinocytes
Sun-Kyung Lee , Hyun-Ju Jang, Hwa-Jeong Lee, Eun-Cheol Kim
Dept. of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, Dental College, Wonkwang University
Iron is essential for neoplastic cell growth, and iron chelators have been tested for potential anti-proliferative and anti-cancer effects, but the effects of iron chelators on oral cancer have not been clearly elucidated. To determine the mechanism of cell death induced by iron chelators, we explored the pathways of the three structurally related mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase subfamilies during iron chelator-induced apoptosis and differentiation of immortalized human oral keratinocytes (IHOK) and oral cancer cells (HN4). The iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO) exerted potent time- and dose-dependent inhibitory effects on the growth and apoptosis of IHOK and HN4 cells. DFO strongly activates p38 MAP kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), but does not activate c-Jun N-terminal kinase/stress-activated protein kinase. Of the three MAP kinase blockers used, the selective p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB203580 and ERK inhibitor PD98059 protected IHOK and HN4 cells against iron chelator-induced cell death, which indicates that the p38 and ERK MAP kinase is a major mediator of apoptosis induced by this iron chelator. Interestingly, treatment of IHOK and HN4 cells with SB203580 and PD98059 abolished cytochrome c release, as well as the activation of caspase-3 and caspase-8. DFO suppressed the expression of epithelial differentiation markers such as involucrin, CK6, and CK19, and this suppression was blocked by p38 and ERK MAP kinase inhibitors.
Collectively, these data suggested that p38 and ERK MAP kinase plays an important role in iron chelator-mediated cell death and in the suppression of differentiation of oral immortalized and malignant keratinocytes, by activating a downstream apoptotic cascade that executes the cell death pathway.
Key words: Oral Cancer, Immortalized Keratinocytes, Iron, Deferoxamine, p38, ERK, MAP kinase, Apoptosis, Differentiation