International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Nov 2018)

Nuclear Lipid Microdomains Regulate Daunorubicin Resistance in Hepatoma Cells

  • Michela Codini,
  • Carmela Conte,
  • Samuela Cataldi,
  • Cataldo Arcuri,
  • Andrea Lazzarini,
  • Maria Rachele Ceccarini,
  • Federica Patria,
  • Alessandro Floridi,
  • Carmen Mecca,
  • Francesco Saverio Ambesi-Impiombato,
  • Tommaso Beccari,
  • Francesco Curcio,
  • Elisabetta Albi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 11
p. 3424


Read online

Daunorubicin is an anticancer drug, and cholesterol is involved in cancer progression, but their relationship has not been defined. In this study, we developed a novel experimental model that utilizes daunorubicin, cholesterol, and daunorubicin plus cholesterol in the same cells (H35) to search for the role of nuclear lipid microdomains, rich in cholesterol and sphingomyelin, in drug resistance. We find that the daunorubicin induces perturbation of nuclear lipid microdomains, localized in the inner nuclear membrane, where active chromatin is anchored. As changes of sphingomyelin species in nuclear lipid microdomains depend on neutral sphingomyelinase activity, we extended our studies to investigate whether the enzyme is modulated by daunorubicin. Indeed the drug stimulated the sphingomyelinase activity that induced reduction of saturated long chain fatty acid sphingomyelin species in nuclear lipid microdomains. Incubation of untreated-drug cells with high levels of cholesterol resulted in the inhibition of sphingomyelinase activity with increased saturated fatty acid sphingomyelin species. In daunodubicin-treated cells, incubation with cholesterol reversed the action of the drug by acting via neutral sphingomyelinase. In conclusion, we suggest that cholesterol and sphingomyelin-forming nuclear lipid microdomains are involved in the drug resistance.