A variety of melanoma antigen A (MAGE-A) genes are commonly detected in non-small cell lung cancers. Their biological function is not well characterized but may involve the regulation of apoptosis and cell cycle progression. We hypothesized that MAGE-A4 is involved in the regulation of apoptosis. To investigate this, expression of MAGE-A was evaluated. MAGE-A4 was expressed in 48% of non-small cell lung carcinomas. Ninety percent of lung carcinomas expressing MAGE-A4 were classified as squamous cell carcinomas and 10% were adenocarcinomas. Tumor-free surrounding lung tissue was negative for MAGE-A4. A molecular clone of MAGE-A4 derived from human lung cancer was stably expressed in human embryonic kidney cells (293 cells) to evaluate effects on cell death. Overexpression of MAGE-A4 increased apoptosis as measured by the apoptotic index (P < 0.0001) and caspase-3 activity (P < 0.002). Exposure to 25 μmol/L etoposide, a chemotherapeutic agent, increased the apoptotic effect (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, we show that MAGE-A4 silencing using a small interfering RNA approach results in decreased caspase-3 activity in the squamous cell lung cancer cell line H1703 by 58% (P = 0.0027) and by 24% (P = 0.028) in 293/ MAGE-A4 cells. These findings suggest that MAGE-A4 expression may promote tumor cell death, sensitize malignancies to apoptotic stimuli, such as chemotherapeutic agents, and therefore may represent a tumor suppressor protein.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research