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1.  Gambogic acid enhances proteasome inhibitor-induced anticancer activity 
Cancer letters  2011;301(2):221-228.
Proteasome inhibition has emerged as a novel approach to anticancer therapy. Numerous natural compounds, such as gambogic acid, have been tested in vitro and in vivo as anticancer agents for cancer prevention and therapy. However, whether gambogic acid has chemosensitizing properties when combined with proteasome inhibitors in the treatment of malignant cells is still unknown. In an effort to investigate this effect, human leukemia K562 cells, mouse hepatocarcinoma H22 cells and H22 cell allografts were treated with gambogic acid, a proteasome inhibitor (MG132 or MG262) or the combination of both, followed by measurement of cellular viability, apoptosis induction and tumor growth inhibition. We report, for the first time, that: (i) the combination of natural product gambogic acid and the proteasome inhibitor MG132 or MG262 results in a synergistic inhibitory effect on growth of malignant cells and tumors in allograft animal models and (ii) there was no apparent systemic toxicity observed in the animals treated with the combination. Therefore, the findings presented in this study demonstrate that natural product gambogic acid is a valuable candidate to be used in combination with proteasome inhibitors, thus representing a compelling anticancer strategy.
doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2010.12.015
PMCID: PMC3662239  PMID: 21216092
Gambogic acid; Proteasome inhibitors; Antitumor activity; Synergistic effect
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
5.  Shikonin extracted from medicinal Chinese herbs exerts anti-inflammatory effect via proteasome inhibition 
European Journal of Pharmacology  2011;658(2-3):242-247.
Shikonin, extracted from medicinal Chinese herb (Lithospermum erythrorhizo), was reported to exert anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects both in vitro and in vivo. We have found that proteasome was a molecular target of shikonin in tumor cells, but whether shikonin targets macrophage proteasome needs to be investigated. In the current study, we report that shikonin inhibited inflammation in mouse models as efficiently as dexamethasone. Shikonin at 4 μM reduced the Lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-mediated TNFα release in rat primary macrophage cultures, and blocked the translocation of p65-NF-κB from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, associated with decreased proteasomal activity. Consistently, shikonin accumulated IκB-α, an inhibitor of NF-κB, and ubiquitinated proteins in rat primary macrophage cultures, demonstrating that the proteasome is a target of shikonin under inflammatory conditions. Shikonin also induced macrophage cell apoptosis and cell death. These results demonstrate for the first time that proteasome inhibition by shikonin contributes to its anti-inflammatory effect. The novel finding about macrophage proteasome as a target of shikonin suggests that this medicinal compound has great potential to be developed into an anti-inflammatory agent.
doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.02.043
PMCID: PMC3299007  PMID: 21392503
Shikonin; Proteasome inhibitor; Macrophage; Inflammation

Results 1-5 (5)