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1.  A novel proteasome inhibitor suppresses tumor growth via targeting both 19S proteasome deubiquitinases and 20S proteolytic peptidases 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5240.
The successful development of bortezomib-based therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma has established proteasome inhibition as an effective therapeutic strategy, and both 20S proteasome peptidases and 19S deubiquitinases (DUBs) are becoming attractive targets of cancer therapy. It has been reported that metal complexes, such as copper complexes, inhibit tumor proteasome. However, the involved mechanism of action has not been fully characterized. Here we report that (i) copper pyrithione (CuPT), an alternative to tributyltin for antifouling paint biocides, inhibits the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) via targeting both 19S proteasome-specific DUBs and 20S proteolytic peptidases with a mechanism distinct from that of the FDA-approved proteasome inhibitor bortezomib; (ii) CuPT potently inhibits proteasome-specific UCHL5 and USP14 activities; (iii) CuPT inhibits tumor growth in vivo and induces cytotoxicity in vitro and ex vivo. This study uncovers a novel class of dual inhibitors of DUBs and proteasome and suggests a potential clinical strategy for cancer therapy.
doi:10.1038/srep05240
PMCID: PMC4050382  PMID: 24912524
2.  HDAC Inhibitor L-Carnitine and Proteasome Inhibitor Bortezomib Synergistically Exert Anti-Tumor Activity In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52576.
Combinations of proteasome inhibitors and histone deacetylases (HDAC) inhibitors appear to be the most potent to produce synergistic cytotoxicity in preclinical trials. We have recently confirmed that L-carnitine (LC) is an endogenous HDAC inhibitor. In the current study, the anti-tumor effect of LC plus proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (velcade, Vel) was investigated both in cultured hepatoma cancer cells and in Balb/c mice bearing HepG2 tumor. Cell death and cell viability were assayed by flow cytometry and MTS, respectively. Gene, mRNA expression and protein levels were detected by gene microarray, quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot, respectively. The effect of Vel on the acetylation of histone H3 associated with the p21cip1 gene promoter was examined by using ChIP assay and proteasome peptidase activity was detected by cell-based chymotrypsin-like (CT-like) activity assay. Here we report that (i) the combination of LC and Vel synergistically induces cytotoxicity in vitro; (ii) the combination also synergistically inhibits tumor growth in vivo; (iii) two major pathways are involved in the synergistical effects of the combinational treatment: increased p21cip1 expression and histone acetylation in vitro and in vivo and enhanced Vel-induced proteasome inhibition by LC. The synergistic effect of LC and Vel in cancer therapy should have great potential in the future clinical trials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052576
PMCID: PMC3527572  PMID: 23285100
3.  L-Carnitine Is an Endogenous HDAC Inhibitor Selectively Inhibiting Cancer Cell Growth In Vivo and In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49062.
L-carnitine (LC) is generally believed to transport long-chain acyl groups from fatty acids into the mitochondrial matrix for ATP generation via the citric acid cycle. Based on Warburg's theory that most cancer cells mainly depend on glycolysis for ATP generation, we hypothesize that, LC treatment would lead to disturbance of cellular metabolism and cytotoxicity in cancer cells. In this study, Human hepatoma HepG2, SMMC-7721 cell lines, primary cultured thymocytes and mice bearing HepG2 tumor were used. ATP content was detected by HPLC assay. Cell cycle, cell death and cell viability were assayed by flow cytometry and MTS respectively. Gene, mRNA expression and protein level were detected by gene microarray, Real-time PCR and Western blot respectively. HDAC activities and histone acetylation were detected both in test tube and in cultured cells. A molecular docking study was carried out with CDOCKER protocol of Discovery Studio 2.0 to predict the molecular interaction between L-carnitine and HDAC. Here we found that (1) LC treatment selectively inhibited cancer cell growth in vivo and in vitro; (2) LC treatment selectively induces the expression of p21cip1 gene, mRNA and protein in cancer cells but not p27kip1; (4) LC increases histone acetylation and induces accumulation of acetylated histones both in normal thymocytes and cancer cells; (5) LC directly inhibits HDAC I/II activities via binding to the active sites of HDAC and induces histone acetylation and lysine-acetylation accumulation in vitro; (6) LC treatment induces accumulation of acetylated histones in chromatin associated with the p21cip1 gene but not p27kip1 detected by ChIP assay. These data support that LC, besides transporting acyl group, works as an endogenous HDAC inhibitor in the cell, which would be of physiological and pathological importance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049062
PMCID: PMC3489732  PMID: 23139833
4.  Sanggenon C decreases tumor cell viability associated with proteasome inhibition 
Several flavonoids have been reported to be proteasome inhibitors, but whether prenylated flavonoids are able to inhibit proteasome function remains unknown. We report for the first time that Sanggenon C, a natural prenylated flavonoid, inhibits tumor cellular proteasomal activity and cell viability. We found that (1) Sanggenon C inhibited tumor cell viability and induced cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase; (2) Sanggenon C inhibited the chymotrypsin-like activity of purified human 20S proteasome and 26S proteasome in H22 cell lysate, and Sanggenon C was able to dose-dependently accumulate ubiquitinated proteins and proteasome substrate protein p27; (3) Sanggenon C-induced proteasome inhibition occurred prior to cell death in murine H22 and P388 cell lines; (4) Sanggenon C induced death of human K562 cancer cells and primary cells isolated from leukemic patients. We conclude that Sanggenon C inhibits tumor cell viability via induction of cell cycle arrest and cell death, which is associated with its ability to inhibit the proteasome function and that proteasome inhibition by Sanggenon C at least partially contributes to the observed tumor cell growth-inhibitory activity.
PMCID: PMC3303154  PMID: 21622138
Sanggenon C; proteasome inhibitor; cell death; cell cycle; flavonoid

Results 1-4 (4)