Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) has been found to be low in a wide range of tumor cells as well as in vitro-transformed cell lines and has been implicated as a new type of tumor suppressor gene. The relationship between MnSOD activity and the malignant phenotype was studied by transfection of MnSOD cDNA into the SV40-transformed human fibroblast cell line WI-38 VA13 subline 2RA. The integration and expression of the exogenous MnSOD cDNA was confirmed in three selected clones with a 2–3.5-fold increase in MnSOD activity. The effect of elevated expression of MnSOD on the cell phenotype was determined by observing growth characteristics. Compared with the parental and neo control cells, the MnSOD-overexpressing clones had a slower growth rate, lower plating efficiency, increased anchorage dependence, and morphological differences. These changes were correlated strongly with the level of MnSOD activity. The results suggest that an increase of MnSOD activity can reverse part of the malignant phenotype in SV40-transformed human fibroblast cells. A possible mechanism is that overexpression of MnSOD might alter the intracellular redox state by modulation of the balance of reactive oxygen species.
Supported by NIH Grants CA 41267 and DE 10758 (to L. W. O.) and CA 49797 (to D. K. S. C.).