Investigations into the influence of pretubulysin and other microtubule-targeting agents on the interaction of endothelial cells with tumor cells and leukocytes

  • Pretubulysin (PT), a biosynthetic precursor of the myxobacterial compound tubulysin D, was recently identified as a novel microtubule-targeting agent (MTA) causing microtubule destabilization. MTAs are the most frequently used chemotherapeutic drugs. They are well studied regarding their direct cytotoxic effects against various tumors as well as for their anti-angiogenic and vascular-disrupting action addressing endothelial cells of the tumor vasculature. However, the impact of MTAs on endothelial cells of the non-tumor vasculature has been largely neglected, although tumor cell interactions with the healthy endothelium play a crucial role in the process of cancer metastasis. Besides their use as potent anti-cancer drugs, some MTAs such as colchicine are traditionally used or recommended for the therapy of inflammatory diseases. Here, too, the role of endothelial cells has been largely neglected, although the endothelium is crucially involved in regulating the process of inflammation. In the present study, the impact of PT on tumor-endothelial cell interactions was therefore analyzed in vitro to gain insights into the mechanism underlying its anti-metastatic effect that was recently confirmed in vivo. In the second part of this work, the influence of PT and other MTAs, namely the microtubule-destabilizing compounds vincristine (VIN) and colchicine (COL) and the microtubule-stabilizing drug paclitaxel (PAC), on leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions was investigated in vitro and in vivo (only PT). It is important to mention that in all in vitro experiments solely endothelial cells and not tumor cells or leukocytes were treated with the MTAs to strictly focus on the role of the endothelium in the action of these compounds. The impact of PT on tumor-endothelial cell interactions was analyzed in vitro by cell adhesion and transendothelial migration assays as well as immunocytochemistry using the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 and primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The treatment of HUVECs with PT increased the adhesion of MDA cells onto the endothelial monolayer, whereas their transendothelial migration was reduced by the compound. Thereafter, the influence of PT on the endothelial cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) E-selectin, N-cadherin, ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and galectin-3 and on the CXCL12/CXCR4 chemokine system was examined, since they might be involved in the PT-triggered tumor cell adhesion. Interestingly, although PT induced the upregulation of ICAM-1, VCAM-1, N-cadherin and CXCL12, cell adhesion assays using neutralizing antibodies or the CXCL12 inhibitor AMD3100 revealed that all these molecules were dispensable for the PT-evoked tumor cell adhesion. As PT induces the formation of interendothelial gaps and MDA cells might adhere onto components of the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM), the precise location of MDA cells attached to the PT-treated endothelial monolayer was investigated. Instead of a direct interaction between tumor and endothelial cells, this work showed that MDA cells preferred to adhere to the ECM component collagen that was exposed within PT-triggered endothelial gaps. Both the PT-evoked increase in tumor cell adhesion onto and the decrease in trans-endothelial migration were completely abolished when β1-integrins were blocked on MDA cells. Similar results were obtained when endothelial cells were treated with VIN and COL but not PAC, indicating that the observed effects of PT depend on its microtubule-destabilizing activity. The impact of PT, VIN, COL and PAC on leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions was analyzed in vivo (only PT) by intravital microscopy of the mouse cremaster muscle and in vitro by cell adhesion assays using the monocyte-like cell line THP-1 and TNFα-activated human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1). While PT did not affect the rolling of leukocytes on the endothelium, their firm adhesion onto and transmigration through the activated endothelium was reduced by PT in vivo. In accordance, the treatment of HMEC-1 with PT, VIN and COL decreased the TNFα-induced adhesion of THP-1 cells onto the endothelial monolayer, whereas PAC had no influence on this process. Thereafter, the influence of PT, VIN, COL and PAC on endothelial ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 was examined, since these molecules are substantially involved in the firm adhesion of leukocytes onto the endothelium. The cell surface protein expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 was reduced by PT, VIN and COL in activated endothelial cells, whereas PAC did only slightly affect the TNFα-induced upregulation of VCAM-1. As the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NFκB plays a crucial role in the TNFα-induced expression of these CAMs, the impact of the MTAs on the NFκB promotor activity was investigated. While PT, VIN and COL decreased the activation of NFκB in activated endothelial cells, PAC did not affect this process. However, in contrast to the strong effects regarding the cell surface protein expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1, the effects of PT, VIN and COL on the NFκB activity was rather low. Thus, the used MTAs might also affect other relevant signaling pathways and/or the intracellular transport of CAMs might be influenced by the impact of the MTAs on the microtubule network. Taken together, the current study provides – at least in part – an explanation for the anti-metastatic potential of PT and gives first insights into the use of PT and VIN as anti-inflammatory drugs. Moreover, this work highlights the endothelium as an attractive target for the development of new anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Author:Rebecca Schwenk
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Robert FürstORCiDGND, Rolf MarschalekORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2018/10/22
Year of first Publication:2018
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2018/10/16
Release Date:2018/10/25
Tag:extracellular matrix; inflammation; metastasis; microtubule-targeting agents; vascular endothelial cells
Page Number:XVI, 128
Institutes:Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht