Cytotoxic effects of a recombinant chimeric toxin on rapidly proliferating vascular smooth muscle cells.
BACKGROUND Restenosis after percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty is associated with activation of medial smooth muscle cells (SMCs); they proliferate, migrate to the subintima, and narrow the vessel lumen. Cancer cells often express more cell surface receptors than do normal cells. This has allowed tumor cells to be specifically targeted using cytotoxic agents. We have examined whether a similar concept can be applied to rapidly proliferating but nontransformed SMCs. Pseudomonas exotoxin (PE; MW, 66 kDa) is a potent toxin that kills cells by inhibiting protein synthesis; its toxicity is diminished when its cell recognition domain is deleted to produce a 40-kDa protein (PE40).
METHODS AND RESULTS A complementary DNA encoding transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha) was ligated to that encoding PE40 and the chimeric toxin TGF alpha-PE40, which is cytotoxic to cancer cells displaying epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors, was expressed in Escherichia coli. The ability of this toxin to kill proliferating SMCs was tested. When cells were seeded at low density (2,500 cells/cm2) and grown in medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, they were found to be rapidly proliferating; these cells were very sensitive to the cytotoxic effects of TGF alpha-PE40 (ID50, 4.0 +/- 0.17 ng/ml). In contrast, cytotoxicity was 30-fold less (ID50, 125 +/- 23 ng/ml; p less than 0.0004) when cells were in a quiescent state (grown in medium supplemented with 0.5% fetal bovine serum).
CONCLUSIONS Competition studies using excess EGF indicated that the cytotoxic effects of TGF alpha-PE40 are specifically mediated by the EGF receptor. EGF receptor binding analysis demonstrated that rapidly proliferating SMCs display 10-fold more EGF receptors than do quiescent SMCs in vitro. Thus, a chimeric toxin targeted toward the EGF receptor can selectively kill rapidly proliferating SMCs. Whether this toxin or other chimeric toxins directed against other cell surface receptors will effectively inhibit SMCs proliferating in vivo or be useful in preventing restenosis remains to be determined.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association