Induction of Apoptosis in Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells: XV. Downregulation of DNA Polymerase-α – Helicase Complex (Replisomes) and Glyco-Genes

  • Subhash C. BasuEmail author
  • Patrick Boyle
  • Rui Ma
  • Arun Agarwal
  • Manju Basu
  • Joseph R. Moskal
  • Sipra Banerjee
  • Narendra Tuteja
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1112)


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 LeX, SA-LeX, LeY, Lea, and Leb 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.


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



We thank Mrs. Dorisanne Nielsen and Mr. Eric Kuehner for their help during the preparation of this manuscript. We thank coworkers of Dr. Narendra Tuteja for supplying us mono- and polyclonal antibodies against DNA Helicase-III, coworkers of Dr. Sipra Banerjee for supplying us all three (SKBR-3, MCF-7, and MDA-468) human breast carcinoma cells, and coworkers of Professor Joseph R. Moskal for teaching our students in detail about the DNA microarray experiments.

The Jacob Javits Research Award from NIH-NINDS NS-18005, Coleman Cancer Foundation, and NCI grant-CA-14764 to S. Basu and a grant-in-aid from Siemens Corporation to M. Basu supported this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Subhash C. Basu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrick Boyle
    • 1
  • Rui Ma
    • 2
  • Arun Agarwal
    • 1
  • Manju Basu
    • 1
  • Joseph R. Moskal
    • 4
  • Sipra Banerjee
    • 3
  • Narendra Tuteja
    • 5
  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Diagnostic DivisionSiemens CorporationShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Cancer BiologyCleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA
  4. 4.The Falk Center for Molecular TherapeuticsNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  5. 5.ICGEBNew DelhiIndia

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