Anthrax lethal toxin, composed of protective antigen and lethal factor, was tested for cytotoxicity to human melanoma cell lines and normal human cells. Eleven of 18 melanoma cell lines were sensitive to anthrax lethal toxin (IC50 < 400 pmol/L) and 10 of these 11 sensitive cell lines carried the V599E BRAF mutation. Most normal cell types (10 of 15) were not sensitive to anthrax lethal toxin and only 5 of 15 normal human cell types were sensitive to anthrax lethal toxin IC50 < 400 pmol/L). These cells included monocytes and a subset of endothelial cells. In both melanoma cell lines and normal cells, anthrax toxin receptor expression levels did not correlate with anthrax lethal toxin cytotoxicity. Furthermore, an anthrax toxin receptor-deficient cell line (PR230) did not show any enhanced sensitivity to anthrax lethal toxin when transfected with anthrax toxin receptor. Anthrax lethal toxin toxicity correlated with elevated phosphorylation levels of mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) 1/2 in both melanoma cell lines and normal cells. Anthrax lethal toxin-sensitive melanoma cell lines and normal cells had higher phospho-MEK1/2 levels than anthrax lethal toxin-resistant melanoma cell lines and normal tissue types. UO126, a specific MEK1/2 inhibitor, was not toxic to anthrax lethal toxin-resistant melanoma cell lines but was toxic to 8 of 11 anthrax lethal toxin-sensitive cell lines. These results show that anthrax lethal toxin toxicity correlates with elevated levels of active MEK1/2 pathway but not with anthrax toxin receptor expression levels in both normal and malignant tissues. Anthrax lethal toxin may be a useful therapeutic for melanoma patients, especially those carrying the V599E BRAF mutation with constitutive activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research