Activation of Autophagy Following [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]-Induced Arginine Deprivation Mediates Cell Death in Colon Cancer Cells


Deregulating cellular energetics by reprogramming metabolic pathways, including arginine metabolism, is critical for cancer cell onset and survival. Drugs that target the specific metabolic requirements of cancer cells have emerged as promising targeted cancer therapeutics. In this study, we investigate the therapeutic potential of targeting colon cancer cells using arginine deprivation induced by a pegylated cobalt-substituted recombinant human Arginase I [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]. Four colon cancer cell lines were tested for their sensitivity to [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000] as well as for their mechanism of cell death following arginine deprivation. All four cell lines were sensitive to arginine deprivation induced by [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]. All cells expressed ASS1 and were rescued from arginine deprivation-induced cytotoxicity by the addition of excess l-citrulline, indicating they are partially auxotrophic for arginine. Mechanistically, cells treated with [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000] were negative for AnnexinV and lacked caspase activation. Further investigation revealed that arginine deprivation leads to a marked and prolonged activation of autophagy in both Caco-2 and T84 cell lines. Finally, we show that [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000] causes cell death by sustained activation of autophagy as evidenced by the decrease in cell cytotoxicity upon treatment with chloroquine, an autophagy inhibitor. Altogether, these data demonstrate that colon cancer cells are partially auxotrophic for arginine and sensitive to [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]-induced arginine deprivation. They also show that the activation of autophagy does not play protective roles but rather, induces cytotoxicity and leads to cell death.

Journal/Conference Information

Human Cell,DOI: DOI 10.1007/s13577-020-00437-4, ISSN: 1749-0774, Volume: 00, Issue: 00, Pages Range: 1-15,