BACKGROUND: Calreticulin (CRT) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone, but can appear surface bound on cancers cells, including ovarian cancers (OC). We investigated at what stage of cell viability, CRT appeared associated with surface of human OC cells. CRT on pre-apoptotic tumour cells is thought to initiate their eradication via a process termed immunogenic cell death (ICD).
METHODS: We treated OC cells with the chemotherapeutic-doxorubicin (DX) known to induce translocation of CRT to some tumour cell surfaces, with and without the ER stressor-thapsigargin (TG)-and/or an ER stress inhibitor-TUDCA. We monitored translocation/release of CRT in pre-apoptotic cells by flow cytometry, immunoblotting and ELISA. We investigated the difference in binding of FITC-CRT to pre-apoptotic, apoptotic and necrotic cells and the ability of extracellular CRT to generate immature dendritic cells from THP-1 monocytes.
RESULTS: Dx-treatment increased endogenously released CRT and extracellular FITC_CRT binding to human pre-apoptotic OC cells. DX and TG also promoted cell death in OC cells which also increased CRT release. These cellular responses were significantly inhibited by TUDCA, suggesting that ER stress is partially responsible for the changes in CRT cellular distribution. Extracellular CRT induces maturation of THP-1 towards a imDC phenotype, an important component of ICD.
CONCLUSION: Collectively, these cellular responses suggest that ER stress is partially responsible for the changes in CRT cellular distribution. ER-stress regulates in part the release and binding of CRT to human OC cells where it may play a role in ICD.