Drug-resistant NCI/ADR-RES human ovarian cancer cells (designed as MCF-7-AdrR previously) [63, 64] were kindly provided by Dr. Kenneth Cowan (UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, Omaha, NE) and Dr. Merrill Goldsmith (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA). The ovarian carcinoma cells A2780-AD, which is resistant to doxorubicin , was kindly provided by Dr. Thomas C. Hamilton (Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA). Doxorubicin-selected KB-A1 cells  were from Dr. Michael M. Gottesman (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD). Drug resistant SW620/Ad colon cancer cells  were kindly provided by Drs. Susan Bates and Antonio Fojo (National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD). Drug-resistant murine EMT6/AR1 breast carcinoma cells [68, 69] were kindly provided by Dr. Ian Tannock (Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada). The OVCAR-8 human ovarian carcinoma cells were provided by Dr. M. Hollingshead of Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis Tumor Repository at National Cancer Institute (Frederick, MD). NCI/ADR-RES, KB-A1 and SW620Ad cells were maintained in RPMI-1640 medium containing 10% (v/v) FBS, 100 units/ml penicillin, 100 μg/ml streptomycin, and 584 mg/liter L-glutamine. A2780-AD cells were cultured in RPMI-1640 medium containing 100 nM doxorubicin in addition to the above components. EMT6/AR1 cells were maintained in Dulbecco's modified eagle medium (DMEM) containing 1 μg/ml of doxorubicin for 2 days/week in addition to the above components. Cells were cultured in a humidified incubator with 95% air and 5% CO2 at 37°C. Doxorubicin hydrochloride was purchased from Sigma (St. Luis, MO). NCI/ADR-RES cells transfected with human GCS gene (NCI/ADR-RES/GCS) and GCS antisense (NCI/ADR-RES/asGCS) were cultured in RPMI 1640 containing the above components and G418 (400 μg/mL) [13, 70].
Mixed-backbone oligonucleotide and inhibitors
A mixed-backbone oligonucleotide, designed to target the ORF 18-37 of human GCS [34, 71], was verified and designated as MBO-asGCS . MBO-asGCS were 20-mer phosphorothioate DNAs, except that four bases at the 5' end and the 3' end were replaced by 2'-O-methyl RNA. MBO-asGCS was synthesized and purified by reverse-phase HPLC and desalting (Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc., Coralville, IA). The MBO-asGCS was introduced into cells with Lipofectamine™ 2000 (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) in Opti-MEM I reduced-serum medium (Invitrogen). To repress MDR1 expression, cells were transfected with MBO-asGCS (100 nM) twice and grown in 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium for 7 days. To inhibit P-gp function, NCI/ADR-RES cells were exposed to verapamil (10 μM) in 5% RPMI-1640 at 37°C for 2 hr, before the analysis of accumulation and efflux. Verapamil hydrochloride was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, MO).
To silence Gb3 synthase, NCI/ADR-RES and NCI/ADR-RES/GCS cells were transfected with siRNA targeting human Gb3 synthase (siRNA-Gb3S 100 nM) or scrambled control siRNA (siRNA-SC 100 nM) twice and grown in 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium for 7 days. The siRNA targeting human Gb3 synthase and control siRNA-A were purchased from Santa Cruz Biotechnology (Santa Cruz, CA, USA). β-1,3-Gal-TL siRNA (sc-62006) was designed to knockdown human β-1,3-galactosyltransferase (GeneID: 145173). Control siRNA-A was consists of a scrambled sequence that will not lead to the specific degradation of Gb3. siRNAs (100 nM) were introduced into these cells with Lipofectamine 2000.
A Src kinase inhibitor, 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl) pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine (PP2) [37, 38] was purchased from Enzo Life Sciences (Plymouth Meeting, PA). An effective β-catenin/Tcf inhibitor, FH535  was purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, MO). OVCAR-8/GCS cells were incubated with PP2 (10 μM) in 5% RPMI-1640 medium for 24 hr. NCI-ADR-RES cells were exposed to FH535 (1 to 20 μM) in 5% RPMI-1640 medium for 24 hr.
Western blotting analysis
Western blotting was conducted as described previously [13, 17]. After treatments, cells or tissue homogenates were lysed using NP40 cell lysis buffer (Biosource, Camarillo, CA, US) to extract the total cellular protein for Western blot. The nuclear proteins were extracted as described previously . Briefly, cells were suspended in 100 μl of Tween-20 lysis buffer (25 mM Tris/Hepes, pH 8.0, 250 mM NaCl, 2 mM EDTA, 1 mM phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride, 0.5% Tween-20), and kept on ice for 15 min. The nuclei were pelleted at 6000 g for 5 min at 4°C, and then resuspended in 100 μl of the lysis buffer containing 500 mM NaCl and incubated on ice for additional 15 min. After incubation, the samples were mixed with 100 μl of the lysis buffer (without NaCl). The supernants were collected for Western blotting following a spin-down at 10,000 g for 15 min. Equal amounts of these proteins (50 μg/lane) were resolved using 4-20% gradient SDS-PAGE (Invitrogen). The transferred blot was blocked with 5% fat-free milk in PBS and immuno-blotted with primary antibodies (anti-GCS goat IgG, anti-P-pg mouse, cSrc, phosphorylated cSrc, phosphorylated FAK, β-catenin, phosphorylated β-catenin) at 4°C, overnight. The antigen-antibody in blots was detected by using a second antibody-conjugated HRP and enzyme-linked chemiluminescence plus substrate (GE Healthcare). GAPDH or β-tubulin was used as loading control for total proteins or nuclear proteins.
Cells (10,000 cells/chamber) were grown in 4-chamber slides with 10% FBS culture medium for 48 hr. After methanol fixation, cells were blocked and then incubated with anti-GCS serum and anti-P-gp antibody (1:100) in block solution (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, CA), overnight at 4°C. GCS antibody and P-gp antibody on cells were recognized by Alexa Fluor®488 goat anti-rabbit IgG and Alexa Fluor 667 goat anti-mouse IgG (Invitrogen). Cell nuclei were counterstained with DAPI (4', 6 diamidino-2-phenylindole) in mounting solution (Vector Laboratories). The slides were observed using a Nikon TE-2000 phase contrast microscope, and the images were captured by a Retiga 2300™ monochrome digital camera using IPLab™ image analysis program (Scanalytics Inc., Rockville, MD).
Cell viability assay
Cell viability was analyzed by quantitation of ATP, an indicator of active cells using CellTiter-Glo luminescent cell viability assay (Promega, Madison, WI), as described previously . Briefly, cells (4,000 cells/well) were grown in 96-well plates with 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium for 24 hr. MBO-asGCS (50 nM) was introduced into cells by Lipofectamine 2000 (vehicle) in Opti-MEM reduced-serum medium, for 4 hr. Cells were then incubated with increasing concentrations of agents in 5% FBS medium for another 72 hr. Cell viability was determined by the measurement of luminescent ATP using a Synergy HT microplate reader (BioTek, Winnooski, VT. USA), following incubation with CellTiter-Glo reagent (Promega, Madison, WI, USA).
Verocytotoxin was kindly provided by Dr. Clifford A. Lingwood (University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada). After 24 hr growth in 96-well plates, cells were incubated with verocytotoxin in 5% FBS RPMI-1640 medium for an additional 72 hr.
Cellular ceramide glycosylation assay
Cells were grown 24 hr in 35-mm dishes (1 × 106 cells/dish) in 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium and MBO-asGCS (50 nM) was introduced as described above. After 12 hr growth in 10% RPMI-1640 medium, cells were switched to 1% bovine serum albumin (fatty acid free) medium containing 50 μM NBD C6-ceramide complexed to BSA (Invitrogen). After 2 hr incubation at 37°C, lipids were extracted, and resolved on partisil high performance TLC plates with fluorescent indicator in a solvent system containing chloroform/methanol/3.5 N ammonium hydroxide (85:15:1, v/v/v), as described previously [17, 73]. NBD C6-glucosylceramide and NBD C6-ceramide were identified using AlphaImager HP imaging system (Alpha Innotech, San Leandro, CA) and quantitated on a Synergy HT multi-detection microplate reader (BioTek). For quantitation, calibration curves were established after TLC separation of NBD C6-ceramide (Invitrogen) and NBD C6-glucosylceramide (N-hexanol-NBD-glucosylceramide; Matreya, Pleasant Gap, PA).
Cells were cultured in 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium and harvested by trypsin-EDTA. Approximately 400 mg of pelleted cells was lyophilized and extracted twice with 4 ml of chloroform/methanol (2/1, v/v). The two extracts were combined, evaporated to dryness and subjected to saponification by suspending the residue in 1 ml of 0.5 N NaOH. After incubation at 55°C for 1 hr, the mixture was neutralized with glacial acetic acid, evaporated to dryness, suspended in 1 ml of water, exhaustively dialyzed against water and lyophilized. The lyophilized powder was dissolved in 100 μl chloroform/methanol (2/1) and a 5-μl aliquot was spotted on a TLC plate (Merck, Darmstadt, Germany). The plate was developed in chloroform/methanol/12 mM MgCl2 (50/40/10, v/v/v), and GSLs were visualized by spraying the plate with diphenylamine-aniline phosphoric acid reagent as described previously .
GSLs on GEMs were prepared and analyzed in NCI/ADR-RES/asGCS, OVCAR-8/GCS and each mock-transfected cell lines, as described previously [58, 75] with modification. Briefly, cells (1 × 107) were harvested, suspended in 1 ml of lysis buffer containing 1% Triton X-100 (TX-100), and 75 units of Aprotinin in TNEV solution (10 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.5, 150 mM NaCl, 5 mM EDTA, 1 mM NaVO4), homogenized and incubated on ice for 20 min. Cell lysates were centrifuged for 5 min at 1300 g to remove nuclei and large cellular debris. The supernatant collected (700 μl) was mixed with equal volume (700 μl) of 85% sucrose (wt/vol) in TNEV solution. The diluted Triton X-100 lysates were overlaid with 30% (6 ml) and 5% (3.3 ml) of sucrose TNEV solution in SW41 centrifuge tube. The samples were centrifuged for 18 h at 200,000 g at 4°C. White bands located at ~5-7% sucrose were collected as GEM fraction and its protein content was determined using BCA Protein Assay Kit. The lipids were extracted with chlofrom/methanol/water (1:1:1, v/v/v) from 200 μg of GEM protein. Extracted lipids were resuspended in choloform-methanol (1:1, v/v) and applied to partisil HPTLC plates. Lipids were resolved using the solvent system of chloroform/methanol/water (65:25:4 v/v/v). Acid alcohol (90% methanol/5% sulfuric acid, 5% acetic acid; Sigma-Aldrich) was used for the chemical detection of glycosphingolipids. Neurtral glycospingolipids qualmix and ceramide trihexosides (Gb3) were purchased from Matreya (Pleasant Gap, PA) and used as standards in TLC.
High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of doxorubicin
The concentrations of doxorubicin in cells, serum and tumors were analyzed, as described previously with minor modifications [76, 77]. Cells (2.5 × 105 cells/well) were grown in 6-well plates with 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium. After 24 hr, cells were shifted to medium containing doxorubicin (100 μM) for 2 hr incubation, at 37°C. Following ice-cold PBS rinsing, cellular doxorubicin was extracted using 3 ml of methanol. For tumor samples, ~80 mg of tissue was homogenized in 200 μl of ice-cold methanol. After centrifugation (7,000 g, 10 min), the supernatant of samples was injected into the HPLC system with an auto-sampler. Doxorubicin was resolved on a Pecosphere C18 reversed-phase column with mobile phase of 50 mM sodium phosphate buffer (pH 2.0):acetonitrile:1-propanol (65:25:2; v/v/v; flow rate of 0.8 ml/min). Doxorubicin was detected with the use of a scanning fluorescence detector at λexcitation 480 nm and λemission 550 nm. The retention time was approximately 7 minutes for doxorubicin. Standard curves were linear within the range of 1 ng/ml to 100 ng/ml (equal to 0.002 ~ 0.17 μM). Samples containing high doxorubicin concentrations were diluted as needed.
For the analysis of doxorubicin in serum, proteins were precipitated with 10% trichloroacetic acid. The supernatant obtained after centrifugation (7,000 g, 10 min) was used for HPLC assay.
Paclitaxel accumulation and efflux
The measurements were performed as described previously [78, 79]. After treatments or transfection, cells were grown in 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium for 24 hr and then shifted to 5% FBS RPMI-1640 medium containing Fluotax-2 (Oregon green 488 paclitaxel, 0.5 μM) and incubated at 37°C for 2 hr. After ice-cold wash and trypsinization, accumulation of paclitaxel was measured. For efflux, at the end of the 2 hr incubation, fresh media was added following wash and re-incubated at 37°C for an additional 2 hr. Fluorescent paclitaxel was measured at λexcitation 485 nm and λemission 529 nm using a Synergy HT microplate reader. Cellular accumulation of paclitaxel was normalized to cell number and paclitaxel added (total intensity). The efflux was normalized against accumulated paclitaxel in cells. Flutax-2 (Oregon green 488 paclitaxel) was purchased from Invitrogen.
After two MBO-asGCS administrations (1 mg/kg every 3-days, ip, 3 mice/group), the small intestine (ileum) and tumors were resected. Tissues (25 mg/reaction) were incubated with fluorescent paclitaxel (1.0 μM) in 200 μl of 1% BSA RPMI-1640 medium containing collagenase IV, immediately following mincing. Accumulation of paclitaxel was measured after 2 hr incubation and 3 times of washes with ice-cold PBS. For efflux, samples were incubated with fresh medium for an additional 2 hr following accumulation and washed 3 times with ice-cold PBS.
Drug-resistant tumor models and treatments
Drug-resistant NCI/ADR-RES tumors were established by using the methods described previously [35, 80]. Athymic nude mice (Foxn1
, 4-5 weeks, female) were purchased from Harlan (Indianapolis, IN) and maintained in the Vivarium, University of Louisiana at Monroe, according to the approved protocol. Cultured cells after 3 to 5 passages were washed with and resuspended in serum-free RPMI-1640 medium. A suspension of NCI/ADR-RES cells (1 × 106 cells in 20 μl per mouse) was injected into the left flank of the mouse. The mice were monitored by measuring tumor growth, body weight and clinical observation. Tumor-bearing mice were randomly divided into multiple treatment and control groups (ten mice per group). MBOs, dissolved in RPMI 1640 medium were given at the dose of 1 mg/kg, twice per week, at the tumor site. The control group received medium only. In combination therapy, doxorubicin was given by intraperitoneal injection at 2 mg/kg once a week with medium or MBOs for 42 days, respectively.
Tumors were removed, fixed and maintained in paraffin blocks. Microsections from each tumor (5 μm) were H&E stained and identified by pathologist (Dr. J. Bao). For immunostaining, antigens were retrieved in steaming sodium citrate buffer (10 mM, 0.05% Tween-20, pH 6.0, 10 min). After blocking with 2% block solution (Vector Laboratories, Burlingame, CA), the slides were incubated with primary antibodies (1:100) at 4°C, overnight.
MDR1 promoter assay
The human MDR1 promoter reporter, pMDR1  was kindly provided by Dr. Kathleen W. Scotto (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ). MDR1 promoter (sequence from -1202 to +118) drives luciferase expression from pGL2B. After treatments or transfection, cells (2.5 × 105 cells/well) were placed into 6-well plates with 10% FBS RPMI-1640 medium. After 24 hr culture, pMDR1 plasmid (4 μg/well) and pGL4 renilla luciferase reporter driven by thymidine kinase promoter (pGL4-hRluc/TK; 4 μg/well) were introduced into cells with Lipofectamine 2000 and cells were cultured in 10% FBS medium for additional 48 hr. Cell lysates were incubated with Dual-luciferase reporter assay system reagents (Promega). The intensities of firefly luciferase (MDR1 promoter activity) and renilla luciferase (TK promoter activity) were measured using a Synergy HT multidetection microplate reader. MDR1 promoter activity was normalized to protein and TK promoter.
All data represent the mean ± SD. Experiments in triplicate were repeated 2 or 3 times in cell models. Student's t test was used to compare mean values, using a Prism 4 program (GraphPad software, San Diego, CA).