JOURNAL ARTICLE

ABL-N-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells is partially mediated by c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase activation

Bin Liu, Mei Han, Rong-Hua Sun, Jun-Jie Wang, Yan-Ping Zhang, Di-Qun Zhang, Jin-Kun Wen
Breast Cancer Research: BCR 2010, 12 (1): R9
20096139

INTRODUCTION: The present study was designed to determine the possibility of acetylbritannilactone (ABL) derivative 5-(5-(ethylperoxy)pentan-2-yl)-6-methyl-3-methylene-2-oxo-2,3,3a,4,7,7a-hexahydrobenzofuran-4-yl 2-(6-methoxynaphthalen-2-yl)propanoate (ABL-N) as a novel therapeutic agent in human breast cancers.

METHODS: We investigated the effects of ABL-N on the induction of apoptosis in human breast cancer cells and further examined the underlying mechanisms. Moreover, tumor growth inhibition of ABL-N was done in xenograft models.

RESULTS: ABL-N induced the activation of caspase-3 in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative cell lines MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468, as evidenced by the cleavage of endogenous substrate Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Pretreatment of cells with pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk or caspase-3-specific inhibitor z-DEVD-fmk inhibited ABL-N-induced apoptosis. ABL-N treatment also resulted in an increase in the expression of pro-apoptotic members (Bax and Bad) with a concomitant decrease in Bcl-2. Furthermore, c-Jun-NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase (p38) were activated in the apoptosis induced by ABL-N and JNK-specific inhibitor SP600125 and JNK small interfering RNA (siRNA) antagonized ABL-N-mediated apoptosis. However, the p38-specific inhibitor SB203580 had no effect upon these processes. Moreover, neither of the caspase inhibitors prevented ABL-N-induced JNK activation, indicating that JNK is upstream of caspases in ABL-N-initiated apoptosis. Additionally, in a nude mice xenograft experiment, ABL-N significantly inhibited the tumor growth of MDA-MB-231 cells.

CONCLUSIONS: ABL-N induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells through the activation of caspases and JNK signaling pathways. Moreover, ABL-N treatment causes a significant inhibition of tumor growth in vivo. Therefore, it is thought that ABL-N might be a potential drug for use in breast cancer prevention and intervention.

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