The inverse relationship between reduced folate carrier function and pemetrexed activity in a human colon cancer cell line

Shrikanta Chattopadhyay, Rongbao Zhao, Sergery A. Krupenko, Natalia Krupenko, I. David Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Pemetrexed, a new generation antifolate recently approved for the treatment of mesothelioma and non - small cell lung cancer, is an excellent substrate for the reduced folate carrier (RFC). To explore the carrier's effect on pemetrexed activity, RFC was inactivated in HCT-15 colon cancer cells by mutagenesis and PT632 selective pressure. A clone (PT1) was obtained with a glycine to arginine substitution at amino acid 401, resulting in the loss of RFC function. PT1 cells were resistant to PT632 (178-fold), methotrexate (4-fold), and ZD1694 (Tomudex, raltitrexed; 20-fold), but were 3-fold collaterally sensitive to pemetrexed when grown in 25 nmol/L of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate. PT1 cells transfected with wild-type RFC had antifolate sensitivities comparable to that of wild-type HCT-15 cells, indicating that the RFC mutation was the sole basis for resistance. Folate pools were contracted in PT1 cells by 32% or 60%, as measured by radiolabeling intracellular folates or by an enzyme binding assay, respectively. This was reflected in marked (6.5-fold) collateral sensitivity to trimetrexate. The initial uptake of pemetrexed in PT1 cells was markedly reduced (∼85%) but intracellular pemetrexed levels increased to ∼60% and ∼70% to that of wild-type cells after 2 hours and 6 days, respectively. There was increased pemetrexed inhibition of glycinamide ribonucleotide transformylase and, to a lesser extent, thymidylate synthase in PT1 cells growing in 5-formyltetrahydrofolate based on nucleoside protection analyses. Hence, loss of RFC function leads to collateral sensitivity to pemetrexed in HCT-15 cells, likely due to cellular folate pool contraction resulting in partial preservation of pemetrexed polyglutamylation and increased target enzyme inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-449
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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