Research Papers:

Selective methioninase-induced trap of cancer cells in S/G2 phase visualized by FUCCI imaging confers chemosensitivity

Shuya Yano, Shukuan Li, Qinghong Han, Yuying Tan, Michael Bouvet, Toshiyoshi Fujiwara and Robert M. Hoffman _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:8729-8736. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2369

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Shuya Yano1,2,3, Shukuan Li1, Qinghong Han1, Yuying Tan1, Michael Bouvet2, Toshiyoshi Fujiwara3 and Robert M. Hoffman1,2

1 AntiCancer, Inc, San Diego, CA

2 Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego, CA

3 Department of Gastroenterological Surgery, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama, Japan


Robert M. Hoffman, email:

Keywords: cell cycle, FUCCI, imaging, S/G2 phase block, recombinant methioninase, rMETase, chemotherapy, HeLa cells, MCF-7 cells

Received: July 18, 2014 Accepted: August 18, 2014 Published: August 19, 2014


A major impediment to the response of tumors to chemotherapy is that the large majority of cancer cells within a tumor are quiescent in G0/G1, where cancer cells are resistant to chemotherapy. To attempt to solve this problem of quiescent cells in a tumor, cancer cells were treated with recombinant methioninase (rMETase), which selectively traps cancer cells in S/G2. The cell cycle phase of the cancer cells was visualized with the fluorescence ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator cell cycle indicator (FUCCI). At the time of rMETase-induced S/G2-phase blockage, identified by the cancer cells’ green fluorescence by FUCCI imaging, the cancer cells were administered S/G2-dependent chemotherapy drugs, which interact with DNA or block DNA synthesis such as doxorubicin, cisplatin, or 5-fluorouracil. Treatment of cancer cells with drugs only, without rMETase-induced S/G2 phase blockage, led to the majority of the cancer-cell population being blocked in G0/G1 phase, identified by the cancer cells becoming red fluorescent in the FUCCI system. The G0/G1 blocked cells were resistant to the chemotherapy. In contrast, trapping of cancer cells in S/G2 phase by rMETase treatment followed by FUCCI-imaging-guided chemotherapy was highly effective in killing the cancer cells.

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