Methylation suppresses the proteasome-inhibitory function of green tea polyphenols

Kristin R Landis-Piwowar, Sheng Biao Wan, Richard A Wiegand, Deborah J Kuhn, Tak Hang Chan, Q Ping Dou
Journal of Cellular Physiology 2007, 213 (1): 252-60
Under physiological conditions, biotransformation reactions, such as methylation, can modify green tea polyphenols (GTPs) and therefore limit their in vivo cancer-preventive activity. Although a recent study suggested that methylated polyphenols are less cancer-protective, the molecular basis is unknown. We previously reported that ester bond-containing GTPs, for example (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate [(-)-EGCG] or (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate [(-)-ECG], potently and specifically inhibit the proteasomal chymotrypsin-like activity. In this study, we hypothesize that methylated GTPs have decreased proteasome-inhibitory abilities. To test this hypothesis, methylated (-)-EGCG and (-)-ECG analogs that can be found in vivo were synthesized and studied for their structure-activity relationships (SARs) using a purified 20S proteasome. The addition of a single methyl group on (-)-EGCG or (-)-ECG led to decreased proteasome inhibition and, as the number of methyl groups increased, the inhibitory potencies further decreased. These SARs were supported by our findings from in silico docking analysis published recently. Previously, we synthesized a peracetate-protected (-)-EGCG molecule, Pro-EGCG (1), to enhance its cellular permeability and stability, and current HPLC analysis confirms conversion of Pro-EGCG (1) to (-)-EGCG in cultured human leukemic Jurkat T cells. Furthermore, in this study, peracetate-protected forms of methylated GTPs were added in intact Jurkat T cells to observe the intracellular effects of methylation. Peracetate-protected, monomethylated (-)-EGCG induced greater cellular proteasome inhibition and apoptosis than did peracetate-protected, trimethylated (-)-EGCG, consistent with the potencies of the parent methylated analogs against a purified 20S proteasome. Therefore, methylation on GTPs, under physiological conditions, could decrease their proteasome-inhibitory activity, contributing to decreased cancer-preventive effects of tea consumption.

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