Effects of Topoisomerase II alpha Inhibition on Oral Cancer Cell Metabolism and Cancer Stem Cell Function

Author(s): Thanigaivelan Kanagasabai, Mariam Hawaz, Kayla Ellis, Orlyne Fah, Helana Mikhaeil, Philip Nguyen, Nathalie Tombo, Anil Shanker, Chethan Sampath, Zaid H Khoury, James Cade, Alexys Ferguson, Pandu Gangula

Background: Topoisomerase IIα (TOP2A), is an enzyme involved in DNA replication, transcription, recombination, and chromatin remodeling and is found in a variety of cancers. However, the role of TOP2A regulation in oral cancer progression is not fully explained. We investigated the effect of TOP2A inhibition on cell survival, metabolism, and cancer stem cell self-renewal function in oral cancer cells.

Methods: Oral carcinoma cell line SCC25 was cultured in complete DMEM/F12 media and treated with 5μM of Etoposide (Topoisomerase II inhibitor) for 48h. The critical parameters of cellular metabolism, including extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation based on the oxygen consumption rate of cancer cells were assessed using Seahorse assay. Western blotting was performed to assess the proteins that are associated with proliferation (Survivin, IL-6) and cancer stem cell function (Oct4, Sox2) in cell lysates prepared from control and etoposide treated groups. Statistical analysis was performed using One-way ANOVA with Dunnett's multiple comparisons test.

Results: The protein expression of TOP2A was significantly (P<0.05) inhibited by etoposide. Additionally, TOP2A inhibition decreased the mitochondrial respiratory parameters including basal respiration, maximal respiration and ATP production. However, TOP2A inhibition has no impact on glycolytic function. Moreover, the proliferative marker survivin and IL-6 showed a significant (P<0.05) decrease after TOP2A inhibition. Conversely, the protein expression of cancer stem cell markers Oct-4 and Sox 2 were not altered.

Conclusion: These results indicate that inhibition of TOP2A is more efficacious by decreasing the mitochondrial metabolic reprogramming and thereby downregulating the key anti-apoptotic and pro-survival mediators. Thus, TOP2A represents an ideal therapeutic target and offers a potential treatment strategy for OSCC.

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