Evidence supporting a role for calcium in apoptosis induction by the synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO)

Numsen Hail, Marina Konopleva, Michael Sporn, Reuben Lotan, Michael Andreeff
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2004 March 19, 279 (12): 11179-87
The synthetic triterpenoid 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO) is a novel anticancer agent that induces apoptosis in tumor cells. The cytotoxic stress underpinning CDDO-induced apoptosis has not been established. This study compared and contrasted the effects of CDDO on COLO 16 human skin cancer cells and their respiration-deficient (rho(0)) clones to elucidate the stress signal responsible for initiating apoptosis. CDDO promoted apoptosis in COLO 16 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The rho(0) clones appeared to be more sensitive to CDDO-induced apoptosis implying that the disruption of mitochondrial respiration was not directly associated with triggering cell death. After a 4-h exposure to CDDO, mitochondrial inner transmembrane potential-sensitive dyes revealed mitochondrial hyperpolarization in the COLO 16 cells and mitochondrial depolarization in the rho(0) clones. Electron microscopy illustrated that this exposure also promoted mitochondrial condensation, endoplasmic reticulum dilation, and chromatin condensation in the COLO 16 cells. Endoplasmic reticulum dilation and chromatin condensation were also observed in the rho(0) clones, but the mitochondria in these cells were markedly swollen implying that the disruption of intracellular Ca(2+) homeostasis was associated with cell death. A Ca(2+)-sensitive dye confirmed that CDDO increased cytoplasmic free Ca(2+) in the COLO 16 cells, their rho(0) clones, as well as in malignant breast and lung epithelial cells. A cell-permeant Ca(2+) chelator reduced the CDDO-induced increase in cytoplasmic free Ca(2+), and inhibited caspase activation, the development of apoptotic morphology, and DNA fragmentation in the COLO 16 cells, implying that Ca(2+) played a pivotal role in signaling the initiation of apoptosis.

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