Rats treated with the alkylating agent methylnitrosourea (MNU) develop multiple, hormonally dependent mammary tumors. Roughly 50% of the tumors have Ha-ras mutation, whereas 50% do not. The MNU-induced rat mammary tumor model was employed to examine the therapeutic efficacy of the farnesyltransferase inhibitor (FTI), R115777, and to examine the use of genomics in identifying susceptible tumors as well as identifying genes whose expression are modulated by FTI treatment. In animals bearing palpable mammary tumors (<7 mm diameter), we performed a surgical biopsy, and 3 days following the biopsy, rats were treated with R115777 (50 mg/kg body wt/day) by gavage. Tumors with Ha-ras mutations underwent profound regression, with nearly 90% showing complete regressions within 4 weeks. In contrast, the non-Ha-ras mutation-bearing tumors yielded a more variable response, although roughly half of the non-Ha-ras mutation tumors underwent significant regression. These results show that although all tumors appear to respond to the FTI inhibitor the tumors with Ha-ras mutations were exquisitely sensitive. We employed a microarray approach to define potential targets and the mechanism of action of R115777 in Ha-ras mutant or wildtype tumors following treatment with FTI. In addition, we determined whether gene expression prior to FTI treatment can be used to differentiate highly sensitive tumors (Ha-ras mutant) and tumors with variable sensitivity (Ha-ras wildtype). Untreated or FTI-treated (4 days at 50 mg/kg body wt) tumors (Ha-ras mutant or wildtype) were examined using oligonucleotide arrays. A significant number of genes were differentially expressed in control rat mammary tumors with or without an activated Ha-ras mutation, suggesting that a microarray analysis might differentiate highly sensitive and variably sensitive tumors. Most of the genes whose expressions were modulated by FTI in tumors were independent of Ha-ras status and were presumably modulated by effects on farnesylation of proteins other than Ha-ras. However, treatment of Ha-ras-mutated mammary tumors with R155777 results in preferential modulation of genes involved in ras-MAP kinase signal transduction pathway and in decreased expression of many genes involved with cell proliferation. In contrast, several classes of genes are altered in rat mammary tumors without a mutated Ha-ras, suggesting that non-ras targets are involved. Ras pathway related genes, p53, WT1 and PCNA, were preferentially modulated in Ha-ras-mutated tumors, whereas modulation of genes in the G-protein pathway, various cytochrome p450s and RB1 are involved in Ha-ras wildtype tumors. Elucidation of gene expression changes in FTI-treated or control rat mammary adenocarcinomas will help in identifying potential pharmacodynamic markers of FTI treatment as well as potential molecular targets of R115777 and other FTIs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research