Enforced cell transdifferentiation of human cancer cells is a promising alternative to conventional chemotherapy. We previously identified albumin-associated lipid- and, more specifically, saturated fatty acid-induced transdifferentiation programs in human cancer cells (HCCLs). In this study, we further characterized the adipocyte-like cells, resulting from the transdifferentiation of human cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MALME-3M, and proposed a common mechanistic approach for these transdifferentiating programs. We showed the loss of pigmentation in MALME-3M cells treated with albumin-associated lipids, based on electron microscopic analysis, and the overexpression of perilipin 2 (PLIN2) by western blotting in MALME-3M and MCF-7 cells treated with unsaturated fatty acids. Comparing the gene expression profiles of naive melanoma MALME-3M cells and albumin-associated lipid-treated cells, based on RNA sequencing, we confirmed the transcriptional upregulation of some key adipogenic gene markers and also an alternative splicing of the adipogenic master regulator PPARG, that is probably related to the reported up regulated expression of the protein. Most importantly, these results also showed the upregulation of genes responsible for Clathrin (CLTC) and other adaptor-related proteins. An increase in CLTC expression in the transdifferentiated cells was confirmed by western blotting. Inactivation of CLTC by chlorpromazine (CHP), an inhibitor of CTLC mediated endocytosis (CME), and gene silencing by siRNAs, partially reversed the accumulation of neutral lipids observed in the transdifferentiated cells. These findings give a deeper insight into the phenotypic changes observed in HCCL to adipocyte-like transdifferentiation and point towards CME as a key pathway in distinct transdifferentiation programs.
Simon C and Aguilar-Gallardo C are co-inventors of the International Patent Application No. PCT/EP2011/004941 entitled “Methods for tumor treatment and adipogenesis differentiation”.