Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine, Northwell Health, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, 11030, New York, United States
Institute of Molecular Medicine, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Northwell Health, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, 11030, New York, United States
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, 500 Hofstra Blvd, Hempstead, 11549, New York, United States
Magnesium (Mg) plays important roles in maintaining genomic stability and cellular redox. Mg also serves as nature's physiological calcium (Ca) channel antagonist, controlling intracellular Ca entry. Because Ca is the most important second messenger, its intracellular concentration is tightly regulated. Excess intracellular Ca can activate aberrant signaling pathways leading to the acquisition of pathological characteristics and cell injury. Several epidemiological studies have linked Mg deficiency (MgD) and increased Ca:Mg ratios with higher incidences of colon cancer and increased mortality. While it is estimated that less than 50% of the US population consumes the recommended daily allowance for Mg, Ca supplementation is widespread. Therefore, we studied the effect of MgD, with variable Ca:Mg ratios on cellular oxidative stress, cell migration, calpain activity, and associated signaling pathways using the CT26 colon cancer cell line. MgD (with Ca:Mg ratios >1) elevated intracellular Ca levels, calpain activity and TRPM7 expression, as well as oxidative stress and cell migration, consistent with observed degradation of full-length E-cadherin, β-catenin, and N-terminal FAK. MgD was accompanied by enhanced degradation of IκBα and the transactivation domain containing the C-terminus of NF-κB p65 (RelA). MgD-exposed CT26 cells exhibited increased p53 degradation and aneuploidy, markers of genomic instability. By contrast, these pathological changes were not observed when CT26 were cultured under MgD conditions where the Ca:Mg ratio was kept at 1. Together, these data support that exposure of colon cancer cells to MgD with physiological Ca concentrations (or increasing Ca:Mg ratios) leads to the acquisition of a more aggressive, metastatic phenotype.