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1.  Caspase-, cathepsin-, and PERK-dependent regulation of MDA-7/IL-24-induced cell killing in primary human glioma cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(2):297-313.
Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which a GST-MDA-7 fusion protein inhibits cell survival of primary human glioma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 killed glioma cells with diverse genetic characteristics that correlated with inactivation of ERK1/2 and activation of JNK1-3. Activation of JNK1-3 was dependent on protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), and GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed in PERK−/− cells. JNK1-3 signaling activated BAX, whereas inhibition of JNK1-3, deletion of BAX, or expression of dominant-negative caspase-9 suppressed lethality. GST-MDA-7 also promoted a PERK-, JNK-, and cathepsin B–dependent cleavage of BID; loss of BID function promoted survival. GST-MDA-7 suppressed BAD and BIM phosphorylation and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression. GST-MDA-7 caused PERK-dependent vacuolization of LC3-expressing endosomes whose formation was suppressed by incubation with 3-methylade-nine, expression of HSP70 or BiP/GRP78, or knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression but not by inhibition of the JNK1-3 pathway. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin-1 expression or overexpression of HSP70 reduced GST-MDA-7 lethality. Our data show that GST-MDA-7 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is causal in the activation of multiple proapoptotic pathways, which converge on the mitochondrion and highlight the complexity of signaling pathways altered by mda-7/IL-24 in glioma cells that ultimately culminate in decreased tumor cell survival.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2166
PMCID: PMC3204355  PMID: 18281515
2.  MDA-7/IL-24–induced cell killing in malignant renal carcinoma cells occurs by a ceramide/CD95/PERK–dependent mechanism 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(5):1280-1291.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) is a novel cytokine displaying selective apoptosis-inducing activity in transformed cells without harming normal cells. The present studies focused on clarifying the mechanism(s) by which glutathione S-transferase (GST)-MDA-7 altered cell survival of human renal carcinoma cells in vitro. GST-MDA-7 caused plasma membrane clustering of CD95 and the association of CD95 with procaspase-8. GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed by inhibition of caspase-8 or by overexpression of short-form cellular FLICE inhibitory protein, but only weakly by inhibition of cathepsin proteases. GST-MDA-7–induced CD95 clustering (and apoptosis) was blocked by knockdown of acidic sphingomyelinase or, to a greater extent, ceramide synthase-6 expression. GST-MDA-7 killing was, in parallel, dependent on inactivation of extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 and on CD95-induced p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-jun NH2-terminal kinase-1/2 signaling. Knockdown of CD95 expression abolished GST-MDA-7–induced phosphorylation of protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase. GST-MDA-7 lethality was suppressed by knockout or expression of a dominant negative protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase that correlated with reduced c-jun NH2-terminal kinase-1/2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and maintained extracellular signal–regulated kinase-1/2 phosphorylation. GST-MDA-7 caused vacuolization of LC3 through a mechanism that was largely CD95 dependent and whose formation was suppressed by knockdown of ATG5 expression. Knockdown of ATG5 suppressed GST-MDA-7 toxicity. Our data show that in kidney cancer cells GST-MDA-7 induces ceramide-dependent activation of CD95, which is causal in promoting an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that activates multiple proapoptotic pathways to decrease survival.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0073
PMCID: PMC2889018  PMID: 19417161
3.  OSU-03012 Stimulates PKR-Like Endoplasmic Reticulum-Dependent Increases in 70-kDa Heat Shock Protein Expression, Attenuating Its Lethal Actions in Transformed Cells 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;73(4):1168-1184.
We have further defined mechanism(s) by which 2-amino-N-{4-[5-(2-phenanthrenyl)-3-(trifluoromethyl)-1H-pyrazol-1-yl]-phenyl}acetamide [OSU-03012 (OSU)], a derivative of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) inhibitor celecoxib but lacking COX2 inhibitory activity, kills transformed cells. In cells lacking expression of protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK-/-), the lethality of OSU was attenuated. OSU enhanced the expression of Beclin 1 and ATG5 and cleavage of pro-caspase 4 in a PERK-dependent fashion and promoted the Beclin 1- and ATG5-dependent formation of vacuoles containing LC3, followed by a subsequent caspase 4-dependent cleavage of cathepsin B and a cathepsin B-dependent formation of low pH intracellular vesicles; cathepsin B was activated and released into the cytosol and genetic suppression of caspase 4, cathepsin B, or apoptosis-inducing factor function significantly suppressed cell killing. In parallel, OSU caused PERK-dependent increases in 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) expression and decreases in 90-kDa heat shock protein (HSP90) and Grp78/BiP expression. Changes in HSP70 expression were post-transcriptional. Knockdown or small-molecule inhibition of HSP70 expression enhanced OSU toxicity, and overexpression of HSP70 suppressed OSU-induced low pH vesicle formation and lethality. Our data demonstrate that OSU-03012 causes cell killing that is dependent on PERK-induced activation of multiple toxic proteases. OSU-03012 also increased expression of HSP70 in a PERK-dependent fashion, providing support for the contention that OSU-03012-induced PERK signaling promotes both cell survival and cell death processes.
doi:10.1124/mol.107.042697
PMCID: PMC2674576  PMID: 18182481
4.  OSU-03012 enhances Ad.mda-7-induced GBM cell killing via ER stress and autophagy and by decreasing expression of mitochondrial protective proteins 
Cancer biology & therapy  2010;9(7):526-536.
The present studies focused on determining whether the autophagy-inducing drug OSU-03012 (AR-12) could enhance the toxicity of recombinant adenoviral delivery of melanoma differentiation associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (mda-7/IL-24) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells. The toxicity of a recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 (Ad.mda-7) was enhanced by OSU-03012 in a diverse panel of primary human GBM cells. The enhanced toxicity correlated with reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and expression of MCL-1 and BCL-XL, and was blocked by molecular activation of ERK1/2 and by inhibition of the intrinsic, but not the extrinsic, apoptosis pathway. Both OSU-03012 and expression of MDA-7/IL-24 increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) that correlated with increased levels of autophagy and expression of dominant negative PERK blocked autophagy induction and tumor cell death. Knockdown of ATG5 or Beclin1 suppressed OSU-03012 enhanced MDA-7/IL-24-induced autophagy and blocked the lethal interaction between the two agents. Ad.mda-7-infected GBM cells secreted MDA-7/IL-24 into the growth media and this conditioned media induced expression of MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected GBM cells. OSU-03012 interacted with conditioned media to kill GBM cells and knockdown of MDA-7/IL-24 in these cells suppressed tumor cell killing. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the induction of autophagy and mitochondrial dysfunction by a combinatorial treatment approach represents a potentially viable strategy to kill primary human GBM cells.
PMCID: PMC2888700  PMID: 20107314
ROS; caspase; ER stress; CD95; cell death
5.  Recombinant Newcastle disease virus (rL-RVG) triggers autophagy and apoptosis in gastric carcinoma cells by inducing ER stress 
We have reported that the recombinant avirulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV) LaSota strain expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein (rL-RVG) could induce autophagy and apoptosis in gastric carcinoma cells. In the present study, we explored the upstream regulators, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress that induce autophagy and apoptosis and the relationships among them. For this purpose, SGC-7901 and HGC cells were infected with rL-RVG. NDV LaSota strain and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) were treated as the control groups. Western blotting and immunofluorescence microscopy were used to detect the expression of the ER stress-related proteins glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) and the transcription factor GADD153 (CHOP), among others. The expression of beclin-1 and the conversion of light chain (LC) 3-I were used to determine the occurrence of autophagy, and flow cytometry (FCM) and western blotting were used to examine apoptosis-related protein expression. Transmission electron microscopy was also performed to monitor the ultrastructure of the cells. Moreover, small interfering (si) RNA was used to knock down CHOP expression. rL-RVG treatment increased the expression of ER stress-related proteins, such as GRP78, CHOP, activating transcriptional factor 6 (ATF6), X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP-1), and phosphorylated eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (p-eIF2α), in a time- and concentration-dependent manner, and knockdown of CHOP reduced LC3-II conversion and beclin-1 expression. When ER stress was inhibited with 4-PBA, the expression of both autophagy-related proteins and apoptosis-related proteins markedly decreased. Interestingly, inhibition of autophagy with 3-methyladenine (3MA) decreased not only apoptosis-related protein expression but also ER stress-related protein expression. Moreover, we found that downregulation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway by SP600125 reduced LC3-II conversion, beclin-1 expression and caspase-3 activation. Collectively, the results suggest that rL-RVG increased ER stress in three branch pathways (ATF6, inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), and PKR-like ER protein kinase (PERK)) that are upstream regulators of autophagy and apoptosis. Moreover, the IRE1-JNK pathway played an important role in switching ER stress to autophagy. These findings will provide molecular bases for developing rL-RVG into a drug candidate for the treatment of gastric carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4889710  PMID: 27293989
Recombinant Newcastle disease virus; endoplasmic reticulum stress; autophagy; apoptosis
6.  Vorinostat and sorafenib increase ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis via ceramide-dependent CD95 and PERK activation 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(10):1648-1662.
We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
PMCID: PMC2674577  PMID: 18787411
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
7.  PERK–Dependent Regulation of Ceramide Synthase 6 and Thioredoxin Play a Key Role in mda-7/IL-24–Induced Killing of Primary Human Glioblastoma Multiforme Cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(3):1120-1129.
Melanoma differentiation associated gene-7(mda-7) encodes IL-24, a cytokine that can selectively trigger apoptosis in transformed cells. Recombinant mda-7 adenovirus (Ad.mda-7) effectively kills glioma cells, offering a novel gene therapy strategy to address deadly brain tumors. In this study, we defined the proximal mechanisms by which Ad-mda-7 kills glioma cells. Key factors implicated included activation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress kinase protein kinase R–like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK), Ca++ elevation, ceramide generation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. PERK inhibition blocked ceramide or dihydroceramide generation, which were critical for Ca++ induction and subsequent ROS formation. Activation of autophagy and cell death relied upon ROS formation, the inhibition of which ablated Ad.mda-7–killing activity. In contrast, inhibiting TRX induced by Ad.MDA-7 enhanced tumor cytotoxicity and improved animal survival in an orthotopic tumor model. Our findings indicate that mda-7/IL-24 induces an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that triggers production of ceramide, Ca2+, and ROS, which in turn promote glioma cell autophagy and cell death.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-4043
PMCID: PMC2890071  PMID: 20103619
8.  Enhancing mda-7/IL-24 therapy in renal carcinoma cells by inhibiting multiple protective signaling pathways using sorafenib and by Ad.5/3 gene delivery 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(12):1290-1305.
We have determined whether an adenovirus that comprises the tail and shaft domains of a serotype 5 virus and the knob domain of a serotype 3 virus expressing MDA-7/IL-24, Ad.5/3-mda-7, more effectively infects and kills renal carcinoma cells (RCCs) compared to a serotype 5 virus, Ad.5-mda-7. RCCs are a tumor cell type that generally does not express the receptor for the type 5 adenovirus; the coxsakie and adenovirus receptor (CAR). Ad.5/3-mda-7 infected RCCs to a much greater degree than Ad.5-mda-7. MDA-7/IL-24 protein secreted from Ad.5/3-mda-7-infected RCCs induced MDA-7/IL-24 expression and promoted apoptosis in uninfected “bystander” RCCs. MDA-7/IL-24 killed both infected and bystander RCCs via CD95 activation. Knockdown of intracellular MDA-7/IL-24 in uninfected RCCs blocked the lethal effects of conditioned media. Infection of RCC tumors in one flank, with Ad.5/3-mda-7, suppressed growth of infected tumors and reduced the growth rate of uninfected tumors implanted on the opposite flank. The toxicity of the serotype 5/3 recombinant adenovirus to express MDA-7/IL-24 was enhanced by combined molecular or small molecule inhibition of MEK1/2 and PI3K; inhibition of mTOR, PI3K and MEK1/2; or use of the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib. In RCCs, combined inhibition of cytoprotective cell signaling pathways enhanced the MDA-7/IL-24-induction of CD95 activation, with greater mitochondrial dysfunction due to loss of MCL-1 and BCL-XL expression and tumor cell death. Treatment of RCC tumors in vivo with sorafenib also enhanced Ad.5/3-mda-7 toxicity and prolonged animal survival. Future combinations of these approaches hold promise for developing a more effective therapy for kidney cancer.
doi:10.4161/cbt.10.12.13497
PMCID: PMC3047088  PMID: 20948318
ERK; JNK; PI3K; AKT; MDA-7/IL-24; sorafenib; PERK; MAPK; interleukin; RCC; kidney
9.  DAP1, a Negative Regulator of Autophagy, Controls SubAB-Mediated Apoptosis and Autophagy 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(11):4899-4908.
Autophagy and apoptosis play critical roles in cellular homeostasis and survival. Subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB), produced by non-O157 type Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC), is an important virulence factor in disease. SubAB, a protease, cleaves a specific site on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone protein BiP/GRP78, leading to ER stress, and induces apoptosis. Here we report that in HeLa cells, activation of a PERK (RNA-dependent protein kinase [PKR]-like ER kinase)-eIF2α (α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2)-dependent pathway by SubAB-mediated BiP cleavage negatively regulates autophagy and induces apoptosis through death-associated protein 1 (DAP1). We found that SubAB treatment decreased the amounts of autophagy markers LC3-II and p62 as well as those of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling proteins ULK1 and S6K. These proteins showed increased expression levels in PERK knockdown or DAP1 knockdown cells. In addition, depletion of DAP1 in HeLa cells dramatically inhibited the SubAB-stimulated apoptotic pathway: SubAB-induced Bax/Bak conformational changes, Bax/Bak oligomerization, cytochrome c release, activation of caspases, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage. These results show that DAP1 is a key regulator, through PERK-eIF2α-dependent pathways, of the induction of apoptosis and reduction of autophagy by SubAB.
doi:10.1128/IAI.02213-14
PMCID: PMC4249318  PMID: 25183729
10.  The activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase is required for dihydroartemisinin-induced autophagy in pancreatic cancer cells 
Background
c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNKs) are strongly activated by a stressful cellular environment, such as chemotherapy and oxidative stress. Autophagy is a protein-degradation system in which double-membrane vacuoles called autophagosomes are formed. The autophagy-related gene Beclin 1 plays a key role in this process. We previously found that autophagy was induced by dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in pancreatic cancer cells. However, little is known about the complex relationship between ROS, JNK activation, autophagy induction, and Beclin 1 expression.
Methods
Cell viability and CCK-8 assays were carried out to determine the cell proliferation; small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were used to knockdown c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNK1/2) genes; western blot was performed to detect the protein expression of LC3, JNK, Beclin 1, caspase 3 and β-actin; production of intracellular ROS was analyzed using FACS flow cytometry; autophagy induction was confirmed by electron microscopy.
Results
In the present study, we explored the role of DHA and Beclin 1 expression in autophagy. DHA-treated cells showed autophagy characteristics, and DHA also activated the JNK pathway and up-regulated the expression of Beclin 1. Conversely, blocking JNK signaling inhibited Beclin 1 up-regulation. JNK activation was found to primarily depend on reactive oxygen species (ROS) resulting from the DHA treatment. Moreover, JNK pathway inhibition and Beclin 1 silencing prevented the induction of DHA-induced autophagy.
Conclusions
These results suggest that the induction of autophagy by DHA is required for JNK-mediated Beclin 1 expression.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-33-8
PMCID: PMC3901759  PMID: 24438216
c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase; Beclin 1; Apoptosis; LC3; Autophagy; Pancreatic cancer; Dihydroartemisinin
11.  Calcium Homeostasis and ER Stress in Control of Autophagy in Cancer Cells 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:352794.
Autophagy is a basic catabolic process, serving as an internal engine during responses to various cellular stresses. As regards cancer, autophagy may play a tumor suppressive role by preserving cellular integrity during tumor development and by possible contribution to cell death. However, autophagy may also exert oncogenic effects by promoting tumor cell survival and preventing cell death, for example, upon anticancer treatment. The major factors influencing autophagy are Ca2+ homeostasis perturbation and starvation. Several Ca2+ channels like voltage-gated T- and L-type channels, IP3 receptors, or CRAC are involved in autophagy regulation. Glucose transporters, mainly from GLUT family, which are often upregulated in cancer, are also prominent targets for autophagy induction. Signals from both Ca2+ perturbations and glucose transport blockage might be integrated at UPR and ER stress activation. Molecular pathways such as IRE 1-JNK-Bcl-2, PERK-eIF2α-ATF4, or ATF6-XBP 1-ATG are related to autophagy induced through ER stress. Moreover ER molecular chaperones such as GRP78/BiP and transcription factors like CHOP participate in regulation of ER stress-mediated autophagy. Autophagy modulation might be promising in anticancer therapies; however, it is a context-dependent matter whether inhibition or activation of autophagy leads to tumor cell death.
doi:10.1155/2015/352794
PMCID: PMC4363509  PMID: 25821797
12.  Podophyllotoxin acetate triggers anticancer effects against non-small cell lung cancer cells by promoting cell death via cell cycle arrest, ER stress and autophagy 
International Journal of Oncology  2015;47(4):1257-1265.
We previously reported that podophyllotoxin acetate (PA) radiosensitizes NCI-H460 cells. Here, we confirmed that PA treatment also induces cell death among two other non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines: NCI-H1299 and A549 cells (IC50 values = 7.6 and 16.1 nM, respectively). Our experiments further showed that PA treatment was able to induce cell death via various mechanisms. First, PA dose-dependently induced cell cycle arrest at G2/M phase, as shown by accumulation of the mitosis-related proteins, p21, survivin and Aurora B. This G2/M phase arrest was due to the PA-induced inhibition of microtubule polymerization. Together, the decreased microtubule polymerization and increased cell cycle arrest induced DNA damage (reflected by accumulation of γ-H2AX) and triggered the induction of intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways, as shown by the time-dependent activations of caspase-3, -8 and -9. Second, PA time-dependently activated the pro-apoptotic ER stress pathway, as evidenced by increased expression levels of BiP, CHOP, IRE1-α, phospho-PERK, and phospho-JNK. Third, PA activated autophagy, as reflected by time-dependent increases in the expression levels of beclin-1, Atg3, Atg5 and Atg7, and the cleavage of LC3. Collectively, these results suggest a model wherein PA decreases microtubule polymerization and increases cell cycle arrest, thereby inducing apoptotic cell death via the activation of DNA damage, ER stress and autophagy.
doi:10.3892/ijo.2015.3123
PMCID: PMC4583522  PMID: 26314270
podophyllotoxin acetate; cell cycle arrest; apoptosis; ER stress; autophagy; lung cancer
13.  Evaluation of Wuchereria bancrofti GST as a Vaccine Candidate for Lymphatic Filariasis 
Background
Lymphatic filarial parasites survive within the lymphatic vessels for years despite the complex immune environment surrounding them. Parasites possibly accomplish this by adopting various immunomodulatory strategies, which include release of glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) that counteract the oxidative free radicals produced by the host. Since GSTs produced by parasites appear to be critical for the survival of parasites in the host, several studies evaluated the potential of parasite GSTs as vaccine candidates especially against schistosomiasis, fascioliasis and Seteria cervi. However, vaccine potential of GSTs of lymphatic filarial parasites has not been evaluated before.
Methods/Principal Findings
In the present study, the GST gene was cloned from the third stage larval (L3) cDNA libraries of Wuchereria bancrofti, and recombinant GST (WbGST) was expressed and purified. Serum samples from individuals living in an endemic area were analyzed for their reactivity with rWbGST. These findings showed that sera from endemic normal individuals (EN) carry significant levels of anti-WbGST IgG antibodies compared to subjects who are microfilaraemic (Mf) or show symptoms of clinical pathology (CP). Isotype analysis of the anti-WbGST IgG antibodies showed a predominance of IgG1 and IgG3 antibodies in EN individuals. Subsequent functional analysis of the rWbGST showed that the rWbGST protein retained the enzymatic activity of GST and the antibodies in EN sera could inhibit this enzymatic activity. Similar results were obtained when anti-rWbGST antibodies raised in mice were used in the neutralization assay. Brugia malayi GST and WbGST show significant sequence similarity. Therefore, to evaluate the vaccine potential of rWbGST, we used B. malayi L3 as challenge parasites. Vaccine potential of rWbGST was initially evaluated by confirming the role of human and mice WbGST antibodies in an antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay. Subsequent vaccination studies in a jird model showed that approximately 61% protection could be achieved against a B. malayi L3 challenge infection in jirds immunized with rWbGST.
Conclusions
Results of this study show that rWbGST is a potential vaccine candidate against lymphatic filariasis. Nearly 61% protection can be achieved against a B. malayi challenge infection in a jird model. The study also showed that the WbGST protein retained the enzymatic activity of GST and this enzymatic activity appears to be critical for the survival of the parasite in the host.
Author Summary
Lymphatic parasites survive for years in a complex immune environment by adopting various strategies of immune modulation, which includes counteracting the oxidative free radical damage caused by the host. We now know that the filarial parasites secrete antioxidant enzymes. Among these, the glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs) have the potent ability to effectively neutralize cytotoxic products arising from reactive oxygen species (ROS) that attack cell membranes. Thus, GSTs have the potential to protect the parasite against host oxidative stress. GSTs of several helminthes, including schistosomes, fasciola and the filarial parasite Seteria cervi, are also involved in inducing protective immunity in the host. The schistosome 28 kDa GST has been successfully developed into a vaccine and is currently in Phase II clinical trials. Thus, GST appears to be a potential target for vaccine development. Therefore, in the present study, we cloned W. bancrofti GST, and expressed and purified the recombinant protein. Immunization and challenge experiments showed that 61% of protection could be achieved against B. malayi infections in a jird model. In vitro studies confirm that the anti-WbGST antibodies participate in the killing of B. malayi L3 through an ADCC mechanism and enzymatic activity of WbGST appears to be critical for this larvicidal function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000457
PMCID: PMC2685978  PMID: 19513102
14.  Regulation of autophagy by ceramide-CD95-PERK signaling 
Autophagy  2008;4(7):929-931.
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3292039  PMID: 18719356
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
15.  Copper compound induces autophagy and apoptosis of glioma cells by reactive oxygen species and jnk activation 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:156.
Background
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive of the primary brain tumors, with a grim prognosis despite intensive treatment. In the past decades, progress in research has not significantly increased overall survival rate.
Methods
The in vitro antineoplastic effect and mechanism of action of Casiopeina III-ia (Cas III-ia), a copper compound, on rat malignant glioma C6 cells was investigated.
Results
Cas III-ia significantly inhibited cell proliferation, inducing autophagy and apoptosis, which correlated with the formation of autophagic vacuoles, overexpression of LC3, Beclin 1, Atg 7, Bax and Bid proteins. A decrease was detected in the mitochondrial membrane potential and in the activity of caspase 3 and 8, together with the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increased activity of c-jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK). The presence of 3-methyladenine (as selective autophagy inhibitor) increased the antineoplastic effect of Cas III-ia, while Z-VAD-FMK only showed partial protection from the antineoplastic effect induced by Cas III-ia, and ROS antioxidants (N-acetylcysteine) decreased apoptosis, autophagy and JNK activity. Moreover, the JNK –specific inhibitor SP600125 prevented Cas III-ia-induced cell death.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that Cas III-ia induces cell death by autophagy and apoptosis, in part due to the activation of ROS –dependent JNK signaling. These findings support further studies of Cas III-ia as candidate for treatment of human malignant glioma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-156
PMCID: PMC3404907  PMID: 22540380
Copper compounds; Autophagy; Apoptosis; ROS; NK; Casiopeinas
16.  Carnosol Induces ROS-Mediated Beclin1-Independent Autophagy and Apoptosis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109630.
Background
In this study we investigated the in vitro and in vivo anticancer effect of carnosol, a naturally occurring polyphenol, in triple negative breast cancer.
Results
We found that carnosol significantly inhibited the viability and colony growth induced G2 arrest in the triple negative MDA-MB-231. Blockade of the cell cycle was associated with increased p21/WAF1 expression and downregulation of p27. Interestingly, carnosol was found to induce beclin1-independent autophagy and apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells. The coexistence of both events, autophagy and apoptosis, was confirmed by electron micrography. Induction of autophagy was found to be an early event, detected within 3 h post-treatment, which subsequently led to apoptosis. Carnosol treatment also caused a dose-dependent increase in the levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (pERK1/2). Moreover, we show that carnosol induced DNA damage, reduced the mitochondrial potential and triggered the activation of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathway. Furthermore, we found that carnosol induced a dose-dependent generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibition of ROS by tiron, a ROS scavenger, blocked the induction of autophagy and apoptosis and attenuated DNA damage. To our knowledge, this is the first report to identify the induction of autophagy by carnosol.
Conclusion
In conclusion our findings provide strong evidence that carnosol may be an alternative therapeutic candidate against the aggressive form of breast cancer and hence deserves more exploration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109630
PMCID: PMC4192122  PMID: 25299698
17.  Mechanism of autophagy to apoptosis switch triggered in prostate cancer cells by antitumor cytokine mda-7/IL-24 
Cancer research  2010;70(9):3667-3676.
mda-7/IL-24 is a unique member of the IL-10 gene family, which displays a broad range of antitumor properties including induction of cancer-specific apoptosis. Adenoviral mediated delivery by Ad.mda-7 invokes an endoplasmic reticulum stress response that is associated with ceramide production and autophagy in some cancer cells. Here we report that Ad.mda-7-induced ER stress and ceramide production triggers autophagy in human prostate cancer cells, but not normal prostate epithelial cells, through a canonical signaling pathway that involves Beclin-1, atg5 and hVps34. Autophagy occurs in cancer cells at early times after Ad.mda-7 infection but a switch to apoptosis occurs by 48 hr post-infection. Inhibiting autophagy with 3-methyladenosine increases Ad.mda-7-induced apoptosis, suggesting that autophagy may be initiated first as a cytoprotective mechanism. Inhibiting apoptosis by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL increased autophagy after Ad.mda-7 infection. During the apoptotic phase, the MDA-7/IL-24 protein physically interacted with Beclin-1 in a manner that could inhibit Beclin-1 function culminating in apoptosis. Conversely, Ad.mda-7 infection elicited calpain-mediated cleavage of the autophagic protein ATG5 in a manner that could facilitate switch to apoptosis. Our findings reveal novel aspects of the interplay between autophagy and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells that underlie the cytotoxic action of mda-7/IL-24, possibly providing new insights in the development of combinatorial therapies for prostate cancer.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3647
PMCID: PMC2874885  PMID: 20406981
mda-7/IL-24; protective autophagy; apoptosis; Beclin-1; atg5
18.  The unfolded protein response regulator GRP78/BiP is required for endoplasmic reticulum integrity and stress-induced autophagy in mammalian cells 
Cell death and differentiation  2008;15(9):1460-1471.
In mammalian cells, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has recently been shown to induce autophagy and the induction requires the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling pathways. However, little is known whether autophagy regulates UPR pathways and how specific UPR targets might control autophagy. Here, we demonstrated that whereas ER stress-induced autophagy was suppressed by PI3KC3 inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA), wortmannin and knockdown of Beclin1 using siRNA, only 3-MA suppressed UPR activation. We discovered that the UPR regulator and ER chaperone GRP78/BiP is required for stress-induced autophagy. In cells where GRP78 expression was knockdown by siRNA, despite spontaneous activation of UPR pathways and LC3 conversion, autophagosome formation induced by ER stress as well as by nutrition starvation was inhibited. GRP78 knockdown did not disrupt PI3KC3-Beclin1 association. However, electron microscopic analysis of the intracellular organelle structure reveals that the ER, a putative membrane source for generating autophagosomal double membrane, was massively expanded and disorganized in cells where GRP78 was knockdown. ER expansion is known to be dependent on the UPR transcription factor XBP-1. Simultaneous knockdown of GRP78 and XBP-1 recovered normal levels of stress-induced autophagosome formation. Thus, these studies uncover 3-MA as an inhibitor of UPR activation and establish GRP78 as a novel obligatory component of autophagy in mammalian cells.
doi:10.1038/cdd.2008.81
PMCID: PMC2758056  PMID: 18551133
autophagy; GRP78; unfolded protein response
19.  Aristolochic Acid I Induced Autophagy Extenuates Cell Apoptosis via ERK 1/2 Pathway in Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30312.
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway that is essential for cell survival and tissue homeostasis. However, limited information is available about autophagy in aristolochic acid (AA) nephropathy. In this study, we investigated the role of autophagy and related signaling pathway during progression of AAI-induced injury to renal tubular epithelial cells (NRK52E cells). The results showed that autophagy in NRK52E cells was detected as early as 3–6 hrs after low dose of AAI (10 µM) exposure as indicated by an up-regulated expression of LC3-II and Beclin 1 proteins. The appearance of AAI-induced punctated staining of autophagosome-associated LC3-II upon GFP-LC3 transfection in NRK52E cells provided further evidence for autophagy. However, cell apoptosis was not detected until 12 hrs after AAI treatment. Blockade of autophagy with Wortmannin or 3-Methyladenine (two inhibitors of phosphoinositede 3-kinases) or small-interfering RNA knockdown of Beclin 1 or Atg7 sensitized the tubular cells to apoptosis. Treatment of NRK52E cells with AAI caused a time-dependent increase in extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) activity, but not c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphorylation with U0126 resulted in a decreased AAI-induced autophagy that was accompanied by an increased apoptosis. Taken together, our study demonstrated for the first time that autophagy occurred earlier than apoptosis during AAI-induced tubular epithelial cell injury. Autophagy induced by AAI via ERK1/2 pathway might attenuate apoptosis, which may provide a protective mechanism for cell survival under AAI-induced pathological condition.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030312
PMCID: PMC3262826  PMID: 22276178
20.  Atg7- and Keap1-dependent autophagy protects breast cancer cell lines against mitoquinone-induced oxidative stress 
Oncotarget  2014;5(6):1526-1537.
The interplay between oxidative stress and autophagy is critical for determining the fate of cancer cells exposed to redox-active and cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. Mitoquinone (MitoQ), a mitochondrially-targeted redox-active ubiquinone conjugate, selectively kills breast cancer cells over healthy mammary epithelial cells. We reported previously that MitoQ, although a derivative of the antioxidant ubiquinone, can generate excess ROS and trigger the Keap1-Nrf2 antioxidant response in the MDA-MB-231 cell line. Following MitoQ treatment, a greater number of cells underwent autophagy than apoptosis. However, the relationship between MitoQ-induced oxidative stress and autophagy as a primary cellular response was unclear. In this report, we demonstrate that MitoQ induces autophagy related gene 7 (Atg7)-dependent, yet Beclin-1-independent, autophagy marked by an increase in LC3-II. Both the ATG7-deficient human MDA-MB-231 cells and Atg7-knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts exhibited lower levels of autophagy following MitoQ treatment than their respective wild-type counterparts. Increased apoptosis was confirmed in these autophagy-deficient isogenic cell line pairs, indicating that autophagy was attempted for survival in wild type cell lines. Furthermore, we observed higher levels of ROS in Atg7-deficient cells, as measured by hydroethidine oxidation. In Atg7-deficient cells, redox-sensitive Keap1 degradation was decreased, suggesting autophagy- and Atg7-dependent degradation of Keap1. Conversely, downregulation of Keap1 decreased autophagy levels, increased Nrf2 activation, upregulated cytoprotective antioxidant gene expression, and caused accumulation of p62, suggesting a feedback loop between ROS-regulated Keap1-Nrf2 and Atg7-regulated autophagy. Our data indicate that excessive ROS causes the upregulation of autophagy, and autophagy acts as an antioxidant feedback response triggered by cytotoxic levels of MitoQ.
PMCID: PMC4039229  PMID: 24681637
autophagy; reactive oxygen species; mitoquinone; breast cancer
21.  The GST-BHMT assay reveals a distinct mechanism underlying proteasome inhibition-induced macroautophagy in mammalian cells 
Autophagy  2015;11(5):812-832.
By monitoring the fragmentation of a GST-BHMT (a protein fusion of glutathionine S-transferase N-terminal to betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase) reporter in lysosomes, the GST-BHMT assay has previously been established as an endpoint, cargo-based assay for starvation-induced autophagy that is largely nonselective. Here, we demonstrate that under nutrient-rich conditions, proteasome inhibition by either pharmaceutical or genetic manipulations induces similar autophagy-dependent GST-BHMT processing. However, mechanistically this proteasome inhibition-induced autophagy is different from that induced by starvation as it does not rely on regulation by MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin [serine/threonine kinase]) and PRKAA/AMPK (protein kinase, AMP-activated, α catalytic subunit), the upstream central sensors of cellular nutrition and energy status, but requires the presence of the cargo receptors SQSTM1/p62 (sequestosome 1) and NBR1 (neighbor of BRCA1 gene 1) that are normally involved in the selective autophagy pathway. Further, it depends on ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress signaling, in particular ERN1/IRE1 (endoplasmic reticulum to nucleus signaling 1) and its main downstream effector MAPK8/JNK1 (mitogen-activated protein kinase 8), but not XBP1 (X-box binding protein 1), by regulating the phosphorylation-dependent disassociation of BCL2 (B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2) from BECN1 (Beclin 1, autophagy related). Moreover, the multimerization domain of GST-BHMT is required for its processing in response to proteasome inhibition, in contrast to its dispensable role in starvation-induced processing. Together, these findings support a model in which under nutrient-rich conditions, proteasome inactivation induces autophagy-dependent processing of the GST-BHMT reporter through a distinct mechanism that bears notable similarity with the yeast Cvt (cytoplasm-to-vacuole targeting) pathway, and suggest the GST-BHMT reporter might be employed as a convenient assay to study selective macroautophagy in mammalian cells.
doi:10.1080/15548627.2015.1034402
PMCID: PMC4509454  PMID: 25984893
BHMT; cargo receptors SQSTM1/p62 and NBR1; MTOR; PRKAA/AMPK; proteasome inhibition; selective macroautophagy; ACACA/B, acetyl-CoA carboxylase α/β; ACTB, actin, β; ATF4, activating transcription factor 4; ATF6, activating transcription factor 6; ATG7, autophagy-related 7; Baf A1, bafilomycin A1; BCL2, B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2; BECN1, Beclin 1, autophagy-related; BHMT, betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; CTNNB1, catenin (cadherin-associated protein), β 1, 88kDa; Cvt, cytoplasm-to-vacuole-targeting; DDIT3, DNA-damage-inducible transcript 3; EBSS, Earle's Balanced Salt Solution; EIF2AK3, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2-α, kinase 3; EIF4EBP1, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; ERN1, endoplasmic reticulum to nucleus signaling 1; GST, glutathionine S-transferase; GST-BHMT, a fusion protein of glutathionine S-transferase N-terminal to betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase; GST-BHMT(FRAG), an autophagy-mediated cleavage product of the GST-BHMT reporter; HA, hemagglutinin; HSPA5, heat shock 70kDa protein 5 (glucose-regulated protein, 78kDa); LSCS, linker-specific cleavage site; MAP1LC3, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; MAP2K7, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7; MAPK8, mitogen-activated protein kinase 8; MTOR, mechanistic target of rapamycin (serine/threonine kinase); MTORC1, MTOR complex 1; NBR1, neighbor of BRCA1 gene 1; P4HB, prolyl 4-hydroxylase, β polypeptide; PRKAA, protein kinase, AMP-activated, α catalytic subunit; RHEB, Ras homolog enriched in brain; RM, rich medium; RPS6KB1, ribosomal protein S6 kinase, 70kDa, polypeptide 1; SQSTM1, sequestosome 1; TSC1/2, tuberous sclerosis 1/2; ULK1, unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase 1; UPR, unfolded protein response; UPS, ubiquitin proteasome system; XBP1, X-box binding protein 1
22.  Adenoviral ER-targeted mda-7/IL-24 vector enhances human cancer cell killing 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(8):2528-2535.
We developed several adenoviral vectors designed to target MDA-7 expression to different subcellular compartments (ie, ER, mitochondria, nucleus, and cytosol) and evaluated their ability to enhance apoptosis. Adenoviral ER-targeted mda-7/IL-24 vector (Ad-ER-mda7) selectively and effectively inhibited the growth and proliferation of lung (A549 and H1299) and esophageal (Seg1 and Bic1) cancer cells by enhancing cell killing. Both Ad-mda7 and Ad-ER-mda7 activated a novel pathway of ER stress-induced apoptosis characterized by unregulated expression of phosphorylated JNK (p-JNK), phosphorylated cJun (p-cJun), and phosphorylated RNA-dependent protein kinase (p-PKR). Caspase-4 activation mediated Ad-mda7- and Ad-ER-mda7-induced cell death. In addition, Ad-mda7- and Ad-ER-mda7-mediated growth inhibition correlated with activation of ER molecular markers PKR and JNK both in vitro (in Ad-mda7- or Ad-ER-mda7-treated lung cancer cells) and in vivo. These findings suggest that vectors targeting the endoplasmic reticulum (Ad-ER-mda7) may be more effective in cancer gene therapy possibly through more effective induction or ER stress pathways.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0083
PMCID: PMC2597048  PMID: 18723497
Apoptosis; MDA-7; adenovirus; gene therapy
23.  Src/STAT3-dependent heme oxygenase-1 induction mediates chemoresistance of breast cancer cells to doxorubicin by promoting autophagy 
Cancer Science  2015;106(8):1023-1032.
Chemotherapeutic resistance in breast cancer, whether acquired or intrinsic, remains a major clinical obstacle. Thus, increasing tumor cell sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents will be helpful in improving the clinical management of breast cancer. In the present study, we found an induction of HO-1 expression in doxorubicin (DOX)-treated MDA-MB-231 human breast adenocarcinoma cells, which showed insensitivity to DOX treatment. Knockdown HO-1 expression dramatically upregulated the incidence of MDA-MB-231 cell death under DOX treatment, indicating that HO-1 functions as a critical contributor to drug resistance in MDA-MB-231 cells. We further observed that DOX exposure induced a cytoprotective autophagic flux in MDA-MB-231 cells, which was dependent on HO-1 induction. Moreover, upregulation of HO-1 expression required the activation of both signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 and its upstream regulator, protein kinase Src. Abrogating Src/STAT3 pathway activation attenuated HO-1 and autophagy induction, thus increasing the chemosensitivity of MDA-MB-231 cells. Therefore, we conclude that Src/STAT3-dependent HO-1 induction protects MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells from DOX-induced death through promoting autophagy. In the following study, we further demonstrated the contribution of Src/STAT3/HO-1/autophagy pathway activation to DOX resistance in another breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-468, which bears a similar phenotype to MDA-MB-231 cells. Therefore, activation of Src/STAT3/HO-1/autophagy signaling pathway might play a general role in protecting certain subtypes of breast cancer cells from DOX-induced cytotoxicity. Targeting this signaling event may provide a potential approach for overcoming DOX resistance in breast cancer therapeutics.
doi:10.1111/cas.12712
PMCID: PMC4556392  PMID: 26041409
Autophagy; chemoresistance; heme oxygenase-1; Src; STAT3
24.  The pan-inhibitor of Aurora kinases danusertib induces apoptosis and autophagy and suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in human breast cancer cells 
Danusertib (Danu) is a pan-inhibitor of Aurora kinases and a third-generation breakpoint cluster region-Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog 1 (Bcr-Abl) tyrosine kinase inhibitor, but its antitumor effect and underlying mechanisms in the treatment of human breast cancer remain elusive. This study aimed to investigate the effects of Danu on the growth, apoptosis, autophagy, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the molecular mechanisms in human breast cancer MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. The results demonstrated that Danu remarkably inhibited cell proliferation, induced apoptosis and autophagy, and suppressed EMT in both breast cancer cell lines. Danu arrested MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells in G2/M phase, accompanied by the downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 and cyclin B1 and upregulation of p21 Waf1/Cip1, p27 Kip1, and p53. Danu significantly decreased the expression of B-cell lymphoma-extra-large (Bcl-xl) and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), but increased the expression of Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) and p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), and promoted the cleavage of caspases 3 and 9. Furthermore, Danu significantly increased the expression levels of the membrane-bound microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3-II) and beclin 1 in breast cancer cells, two markers for autophagy. Danu induced the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) and inhibited the activation of protein kinase B (Akt)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways in breast cancer cells. Treatment with wortmannin (a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor) markedly inhibited Danu-induced activation of p38 MAPK and conversion of cytosolic LC3-I to membrane-bound LC3-II. Pharmacological inhibition and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of p38 MAPK suppressed Akt activation, resulting in LC3-II accumulation and enhanced autophagy. Pharmacological inhibition and small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of Erk1/2 also remarkably increased the level of LC3-II in MCF7 cells. Moreover, Danu inhibited EMT in both MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells with upregulated E-cadherin and zona occludens protein 1 (ZO-1) but downregulated N-cadherin, zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (TCF8/ZEB1), snail, slug, vimentin, and β-catenin. Notably, Danu showed lower cytotoxicity toward normal breast epithelial MCF10A cells. These findings indicate that Danu promotes cellular apoptosis and autophagy but inhibits EMT in human breast cancer cells via modulation of p38 MAPK/Erk1/2/Akt/mTOR signaling pathways. Danu may represent a promising anticancer agent for breast cancer treatment. More studies are warranted to fully delineate the underlying mechanisms, efficacy, and safety of Danu in breast cancer therapy.
doi:10.2147/DDDT.S74412
PMCID: PMC4338784  PMID: 25733818
Danusertib; breast cancer; cell cycle; apoptosis; autophagy; EMT
25.  Palmitic acid induces autophagy in hepatocytes via JNK2 activation 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2014;35(4):504-512.
Aim:
Free fatty acid-induced lipotoxicity plays a crucial role in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In the present study we investigated the effects of a high-fat diet and free fatty acids on the autophagic process in hepatocytes in vivo and in vitro and the underlying mechanisms.
Methods:
LC3-II expression, a hallmark of autophagic flux, was detected in liver specimens from patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as well as in the livers of C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) up to 16 weeks. LC3-II expression was also analyzed in human SMMC-7721 and HepG2 hepatoma cells exposed to palmitic acid (PA), a saturated fatty acid. PA-induced apoptosis was detected by Annexin V staining and specific cleavage of PARP in the presence and absence of different agents.
Results:
LC3-II expression was markedly increased in human NASH and in liver tissues of HFD-fed mice. Treatment of SMMC-7721 cells with PA increased LC3-II expression in time- and dose-dependent manners, whereas the unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid had no effect. Inhibition of autophagy with 3MA sensitized SMMC-7721 cells to PA-induced apoptosis, whereas activation of autophagy by rapamycin attenuated PA-induced PARP cleavage. The autophagy-associated proteins Beclin1 and Atg5 were essential for PA-induced autophagy in SMMC-7721 cells. Moreover, pretreatment with SP600125, an inhibitor of JNK, effectively abrogated PA-mediated autophagy and apoptosis. Specific knockdown of JNK2, but not JNK1, in SMMC-7721 cells significantly suppressed PA-induced autophagy and enhanced its pro-apoptotic activity; whereas specific knockdown of JNK1 had the converse effect. Similar results were obtained when HepG2 cells were tested.
Conclusion:
JNK1 promotes PA-induced lipoapoptosis, whereas JNK2 activates pro-survival autophagy and inhibits PA lipotoxicity. Our results suggest that modulation of autophagy may have therapeutic benefits in the treatment of lipid-related metabolic diseases.
doi:10.1038/aps.2013.170
PMCID: PMC4813717  PMID: 24608675
hepatocytes; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; free fatty acid; autophagy; apoptosis; palmitic acid; 3MA; rapamycin; SP600125; Beclin1; Atg5; JNK2

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