Oncogenic ras results in increased cell kill due to defective thermoprotection in lung cancer cells

Roger A. Vertrees, Joseph B. Zwischenberger, Paul J. Boor, Scot D. Pencil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. The survival response of normal cells to heat stress is an upregulation of heat shock proteins and ras protein activation. We hypothesized that in lung cancer cells the presence of oncogenic ras interferes with thermoprotective mechanisms resulting in cell death. Methods. An equal number of lung tissue culture cells (normal and cancerous) were subjected to either heat stress and then recovery (43°C for 180 minutes, 37°C for 180 minutes) or recovery alone (37°C for 360 minutes). End points were surviving number of cells, cell-death time course, heat shock protein (HSP70, HSC70, HSP27) expression before and after heat stress, and time course for HSP70 expression during heat stress and recovery. Heated cells were compared with unheated control cells, then this difference was compared between cell types. Results. Heat stress in normal cells caused an 8% decrease in cell number versus a 78% ± 5% decrease in cancer cells (p < 0.05). In normal cells, heat stress caused a 4.4-fold increase in HSP70, no change in HSC70, and a 1.7-fold increase in HSP27. In contrast, cancer cells initially contained significantly less HSP70 (p < 0.05), and there was a 27- fold increase in HSP70 and a 2-fold increase in HSC70 with no HSP27 detected (comparison significant, p < 0.05). HSP70 time course in normal cells showed that HSP70 increased 100-fold, reaching a vertex at 2 hours and remaining elevated for 24 hours; in cancer cells, HSP70 maximum expression (100-fold) peaked at 5 hours, then decreased to slightly elevated at 24 hours. Conclusions. Cancer cells with oncogenic ras have defective thermoprotective mechanism(s) causing increased in vitro cell death, which provides an opportunity for thermal treatment of lung cancer. (C) 2000 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1675-1680
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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