Inhibition of ribosome biogenesis induces apoptosis in p53-/- cells

William John Andrews

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The nucleolus is an important region of the nucleus that acts as the main site of rRNA transcription by RNA polymerase I (Pol-I), and one of the most prominent morphological markers of proliferative and invasive cancers is increased nucleolar size. Increases in Pol-I transcription leads to increased levels of ribosome biogenesis that are able to fuel rapid cell growth and proliferation due to increased ribosome numbers. Therefore Pol-I transcription seems a viable target for the development of anticancer therapeutics as abrogation of Pol-I transcription leads to cessation of cell growth and eventual cell death. We have confirmed that ellipticine compound, 9-Hydroxyellipticine (9HE), is an efficient inhibitor of Pol-I transcription in vitro and in p53+/+ and -/- cell lines in vivo. Short-term treatments (≤24 h) with micromolar concentrations of 9HE leads to decreased cell viability and proliferation, and leads to activation of caspases 3, 8 and 9, indicating that both intrinsic and extrinsic cell death mechanisms are activated upon Pol-I inhibition. Reactive oxygen species levels were also studied following short and long term treatments with 9HE and there was a 2/3-fold increase in cellular ROS levels. Long-term 9HE treatment (≥24 h) leads to cellular senescence as indicated by increased cellular morphology and senescence associated β-galactosidase staining, and this senescence is not accompanied by induction of autophagy. Following 24 h treatment there is also accumulation of cells in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle and qPCR analysis of cell cycle regulators shows down-regulation of G1/S transition associated cyclins. These data show that Pol-I transcription is a viable target for the development of novel chemotherapeutics, although further delineation of the cell death pathways remains. To further elucidate the mechanism, the role of mitochondrial death signals will be investigated by determination of cytochrome c release and regulation of Bcl2 family member proteins.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012
EventIrish Association for Cancer Research - Athlone, Ireland
Duration: 20 Sep 2012 → …


ConferenceIrish Association for Cancer Research
Period20/09/2012 → …


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