Systems redox biology analysis of cancer
Johnston, Hannah Elizabeth
The Warburg effect describes the survival advantage of cancer cells in that they can proliferate under low oxygen/hypoxic conditions via a less efficient pathway known as glycolysis. It has not yet been documented at which point, in an oxygen gradient, phenotypic changes occur. Measuring the intracellular redox potential (IRP) and its impact on cellular dynamics would provide greater insight into how disruption of redox homeostasis caused by changes in oxygen concentration leads to aberrant cell signalling and diseases such as cancer. Current techniques in measuring IRP include redox‐sensitive fluorescent proteins such as roGFP which is glutathione‐specific. Measuring the concentration of one redox couple is, however, not an accurate representation of IRP as it does not necessarily inform about the state of other redox couples. Furthermore, fluorescent biosensors can suffer from photobleaching and may interact with other oxidants. The IRP was measured, in this work, using our newly developed novel‐class of surface enhanced Raman scattering nanoparticles which can quantitatively measure the redox potential of cells in vitro. A “homemade” device was created to keep the cells under fixed pO2 whilst obtaining measurements. The IRP was correlated with the transcriptomic and downstream metabolic profiles of MCF7 breast cancer cells, under perturbed pO2, using 1H NMR spectroscopy (NMR), mass spectrometry (MS) and RNA‐sequencing. Discriminatory metabolites were all associated with energy and glucose metabolism. Discriminatory microRNAs were all affiliated with the hallmarks of cancer; the regulation of some is controlled by transcription factors containing redox‐sensitive motifs in their DNA binding domains. Multivariate analysis techniques were used to analyse the different data streams in a holistic way that allows the correlation of redox potential, metabolism and transcription.