Open Access Open Badges Research article

Role of Caveolin 1, E-Cadherin, Enolase 2 and PKCalpha on resistance to methotrexate in human HT29 colon cancer cells

Elisabet Selga1, Cristina Morales24, Véronique Noé1, Miguel A Peinado23 and Carlos J Ciudad1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2 Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (IDIBELL), L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain

3 Institut de Medicina Predictiva i Personalitzada del Càncer (IMPPC), Badalona, Barcelona, Spain

4 Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of, Copenhagen, Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark

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BMC Medical Genomics 2008, 1:35  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-1-35

Published: 11 August 2008



Methotrexate is one of the earliest cytotoxic drugs used in cancer therapy, and despite the isolation of multiple other folate antagonists, methotrexate maintains its significant role as a treatment for different types of cancer and other disorders. The usefulness of treatment with methotrexate is limited by the development of drug resistance, which may be acquired through different ways. To get insights into the mechanisms associated with drug resistance and sensitization we performed a functional analysis of genes deregulated in methotrexate resistant cells, either due to its co-amplification with the dhfr gene or as a result of a transcriptome screening using microarrays.


Gene expression levels were compared between triplicate samples from either HT29 sensitive cells and resistant to 10-5 M MTX by hybridization to the GeneChip® HG U133 PLUS 2.0 from Affymetrix. After normalization, a list of 3-fold differentially expressed genes with a p-value < 0.05 including multiple testing correction (Benjamini and Hochberg false discovery rate) was generated. RT-Real-time PCR was used to validate the expression levels of selected genes and copy-number was determined by qPCR. Functional validations were performed either by siRNAs or by transfection of an expression plasmid.


Genes adjacent to the dhfr locus and included in the 5q14 amplicon were overexpressed in HT29 MTX-resistant cells. Treatment with siRNAs against those genes caused a slight reduction in cell viability in both HT29 sensitive and resistant cells. On the other hand, microarray analysis of HT29 and HT29 MTX resistant cells unveiled overexpression of caveolin 1, enolase 2 and PKCα genes in resistant cells without concomitant copy number gain. siRNAs against these three genes effectively reduced cell viability and caused a decreased MTX resistance capacity. Moreover, overexpression of E-cadherin, which was found underexpressed in MTX-resistant cells, also sensitized the cells toward the chemotherapeutic agent. Combined treatments targeting siRNA inhibition of caveolin 1 and overexpression of E-cadherin markedly reduced cell viability in both sensitive and MTX-resistant HT29 cells.


We provide functional evidences indicating that caveolin 1 and E-cadherin, deregulated in MTX resistant cells, may play a critical role in cell survival and may constitute potential targets for coadjuvant therapy.