Induction of apoptosis in metastatic breast cancer cells: XV. downregulation of DNA polymerase-α – helicase complex (replisomes) and glyco-genes

Subhash C. Basu*, Patrick Boyle, Rui Ma, Arun Agarwal, Manju Basu, Joseph R. Moskal, Sipra Banerjee, Narendra Tuteja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In normal and cancer cells, successful cell division requires accurate duplication of chromosomal DNA. All cells require a multiprotein DNA duplication system (replisomes) for their existence. However, death of normal cells in our body occurs through the apoptotic process. During apoptotic process several crucial genes are downregulated with the upregulation of caspase pathways, leading to ultimate degradation of genomic DNA. In metastatic cancer cells (SKBR-3, MCF -7, and MDA-462), this process is inhibited to achieve immortality as well as overexpression of the enzymes for the synthesis of marker molecules. It is believed that the GSL of the lacto family such as Le X , SA-Le X , Le Y , Le a , and Le b are markers on the human colon and breast cancer cells. Recently, we have characterized that a few apoptotic chemicals (cis-platin, L-PPMP, D-PDMP, GD3 ganglioside, GD1b ganglioside, betulinic acid, tamoxifen, and melphalan) in low doses kill metastatic breast cancer cells. The apoptosis-inducing agent (e.g., cis-platin) showed inhibition of DNA polymerase/helicase (part of the replisomes) and also modulated (positively) a few glycolipid-glycosyltransferase (GSL-GLTs) transcriptions in the early stages (within 2 h after treatment) of apoptosis. These Lc-family GSLs are also present on the surfaces of human breast and colon carcinoma cells. It is advantageous to deliver these apoptotic chemicals through the metastatic cell surfaces containing high concentration of marker glycolipids (Lc-GSLs). Targeted application of apoptotic chemicals (in micro scale) to kill the cancer cells would be an ideal way to inhibit the metastatic growth of both breast and colon cancer cells. It was observed in three different breast cancer lines (SKBR-3, MDA-468, and MCF-7) that in 2 h very little apoptotic process had started, but predominant biochemical changes (including inactivation of replisomes) started between 6 and 24 h of the drug treatments. The contents of replisomes (replisomal complexes) during induction of apoptosis are not known. It is known that DNA helicase activities (major proteins catalyze the melting of dsDNA strands) change during apoptotic induction process. Previously DNA Helicase-III was characterized as a component of the replication complexes isolated from carcinoma cells and normal rapid growing embryonic chicken brain cells. Helicase activities were assayed by a novel method (combined immunoprecipitation-ROME assay), and DNA polymerase-alpha activities were determined by regular chain extension of nicked “ACT-DNA,” by determining values obtained from +/− aphidicolin added to the incubation mixtures. Very little is known about the stability of the “replication complexes” (or replisomes) during the apoptotic process. DNA helicases are motor proteins that catalyze the melting of genomic DNA during replication, repair, and recombination processes. In all three breast carcinoma cell lines (SKBR-3, MCF-7, and MDA-468), a common trend, decrease of activities of DNA polymerase-alpha and Helicase-III (estimated and detected with a polyclonal antibody), was observed, after cis-platin- and L-PPMP-induced apoptosis. Previously our laboratory has documented downregulation (within 24–48 h) of several GSL-GLTs with these apoptotic reagents in breast and colon cancer cells also. Perhaps induced apoptosis would improve the prognosis in metastatic breast and colon cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Anticancer drugs
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma cells
  • Caspase-3
  • Caspase-9
  • Cis-platin
  • D-PDMP
  • DNA polymerase-α
  • GD1a ganglioside
  • GD3 ganglioside
  • Helicase-III
  • L-PPMP
  • Replication complex
  • Replisomes
  • SAT-2
  • SAT-3
  • SAT-4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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