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Overexpression of glutamate-cysteine ligase protects human COV434 granulosa tumour cells against oxidative and γ-radiation-induced cell death

  • Author(s): Cortes-Wanstreet, MM
  • Giedzinski, E
  • Limoli, CL
  • Luderer, U
  • et al.
Abstract

Ionizing radiation is toxic to ovarian follicles and can cause infertility. Generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been implicated in the toxicity of ionizing radiation in several cell types. We have shown that depletion of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) sensitizes follicles and granulosa cells to toxicant-induced apoptosis and that supplementation of GSH is protective. The rate-limiting reaction in GSH biosynthesis is catalysed by glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCL), which consists of a catalytic subunit (GCLC) and a regulatory subunit (GCLM). We hypothesized that overexpression of Gclc or Gclm to increase GSH synthesis would protect granulosa cells against oxidant- and radiation-induced cell death. The COV434 line of human granulosa tumour cells was stably transfected with vectors designed for the constitutive expression of Gclc, Gclm, both Gclc and Gclm or empty vector. GCL protein and enzymatic activity and total GSH levels were significantly increased in the GCL subunit-transfected cells. GCL-transfected cells were resistant to cell killing by treatment with hydrogen peroxide compared to control cells. Cell viability declined less in all the GCL subunit-transfected cell lines 1-8 h after 0.5 mM hydrogen peroxide treatment than in control cells. We next examined the effects of GCL overexpression on responses to ionizing radiation. ROS were measured using a redox-sensitive fluorogenic dye in cells irradiated with 0, 1 or 5 Gy of γ-rays. There was a dose-dependent increase in ROS within 30 min in all cell lines, an effect that was significantly attenuated in Gcl-transfected cells. Apoptosis, assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labelling and activated caspase-3 immunoblotting, was significantly decreased in irradiated Gclc-transfected cells compared to irradiated control cells. Suppression of GSH synthesis in Gclc-transfected cells reversed resistance to radiation. These findings show that overexpression of GCL in granulosa cells can augment GSH synthesis and ameliorate various sequelae associated with exposure to oxidative stress and irradiation.

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