Background: Polyamines regulate important cellular functions and polyamine dysregulation frequently occurs in cancer. The objective of this study was to use a systems approach to study the relative effects of PG-11047, a polyamine analogue, across breast cancer cells derived from different patients and to identify genetic markers associated with differential cytotoxicity.Methods: A panel of 48 breast cell lines that mirror many transcriptional and genomic features present in primary human breast tumours were used to study the antiproliferative activity of PG-11047. Sensitive cell lines were further examined for cell cycle distribution and apoptotic response. Cell line responses, quantified by the GI50 (dose required for 50% relative growth inhibition) were correlated with the omic profiles of the cell lines to identify markers that predict response and cellular functions associated with drug sensitivity.Results: The concentrations of PG-11047 needed to inhibit growth of members of the panel of breast cell lines varied over a wide range, with basal-like cell lines being inhibited at lower concentrations than the luminal cell lines. Sensitive cell lines showed a significant decrease in S phase fraction at doses that produced little apoptosis. Correlation of the GI50 values with the omic profiles of the cell lines identified genomic, transcriptional and proteomic variables associated with response.Conclusions: A 13-gene transcriptional marker set was developed as a predictor of response to PG-11047 that warrants clinical evaluation. Analyses of the pathways, networks and genes associated with response to PG-11047 suggest that response may be influenced by interferon signalling and differential inhibition of aspects of motility and epithelial to mesenchymal transition.See the related commentary by Benes and Settleman: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/7/78.
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