Research Papers:

Targeting argininosuccinate synthetase negative melanomas using combination of arginine degrading enzyme and cisplatin

Niramol Savaraj _, Chunjing Wu, Ying-Ying Li, Medhi Wangpaichitr, Min You, John Bomalaski, Wei He, Macus Tien Kuo and Lynn G. Feun

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:6295-6309. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3370

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Niramol Savaraj1,2, Chunjing Wu1, Ying-Ying Li2, Medhi Wangpaichitr1,3, Min You3, John Bomalaski4, Wei He4, Macus Tien Kuo5 and Lynn G. Feun2

1 Miami VA Healthcare System, Department of Veterans Affairs, Miami, FL, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA

3 Department of Surgery, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA

4 Polaris Group, San Diego, CA, USA

5 Departments of Molecular Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA


Niramol Savaraj, email:

Keywords: Melanoma, Cisplatin, Arginine Deiminase, Argininosuccinate Synthetase

Received: December 30, 2014 Accepted: January 13, 2015 Published: January 31, 2015


Loss of argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS) expression in melanoma makes these tumor cells vulnerable to arginine deprivation. Pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20) which degrades arginine to citrulline and ammonia has been used clinically and partial responses and stable disease have been noted with minimal toxicity. In order to improve the therapeutic efficacy of ADI-PEG20, we have combined ADI-PEG20 with a DNA damaging agent, cisplatin. We have shown that the combination of the two drugs together significantly improved the therapeutic efficacy when compared to ADI-PEG20 alone or cisplatin alone in 4 melanoma cell lines, regardless of their BRAF mutation. In-vivo study also exhibited the same effect as in-vitro with no added toxicity to either agent alone. The underlying mechanism is complex, but increased DNA damage upon arginine deprivation due to decreased DNA repair proteins, FANCD2, ATM, and CHK1/2 most likely leads to increased apoptosis. This action is further intensified by increased proapoptotic protein, NOXA, and decreased antiapoptotic proteins, SURVIVIN, BCL2 and XIAP. The autophagic process which protects cells from apoptosis upon ADI-PEG20 treatment also dampens upon cisplatin administration. Thus, the combination of arginine deprivation and cisplatin function in concert to kill tumor cells which do not express ASS without added toxicity to normal cells.

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