Cyclooxygenase-independent Induction of Apoptosis by Sulindac Sulfone Is Mediated by Polyamines in Colon Cancer

Naveen Babbar, Natalia A. Ignatenko, Robert A. Casero, Eugene W. Gerner

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125 Scopus citations


Sulindac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prodrug, is metabolized into pharmacologically active sulfide and sulfone derivatives. Sulindac sulfide, but not sulindac sulfone, inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme activities, yet both derivatives have growth inhibitory effects on colon cancer cells. Microarray analysis was used to detect COX-independent effects of sulindac on gene expression in human colorectal cells. Spermidine/spermine N 1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) gene, which encodes a polyamine catabolic enzyme, was induced by clinically relevant sulindac sulfone concentrations. Northern blots confirmed increased SSAT RNA levels in these colon cancer cells. Deletion analysis and mutational studies were done to map the sulindac sulfone-dependent response sequences in the SSAT 5′-flanking sequences. This led us to the identification of two peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) response elements (PPREs) in the SSAT gene. PPRE-2, at +48 bases relative to the transcription start site, is required for the induction of SSAT by sulindac sulfone and is specifically bound by PPARγ in the Caco-2 cells as shown by transfection and gel shift experiments. PPRE-1, at -323 bases relative to the start site, is not required for the induction of SSAT by sulindac sulfone but can be bound by both PPARδ and PPARγ. Sulindac sulfone reduced cellular polyamine contents in the absence but not in the presence of verapamil, an inhibitor of the export of monoacetyl diamines, inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. The induced apoptosis could be partially rescued by exogenous putrescine. These data suggest that apoptosis induced by sulindac sulfone is mediated, in part, by the COX-independent, PPAR-dependent transcriptional activation of SSAT, leading to reduced tissue polyamine contents in human colon cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47762-47775
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 28 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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