JOURNAL ARTICLE

The Bcl-2/xL inhibitor ABT-263 increases the stability of Mcl-1 mRNA and protein in hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Bin Wang, Zhenhong Ni, Xufang Dai, Liyan Qin, Xinzhe Li, Liang Xu, Jiqin Lian, Fengtian He
Molecular Cancer 2014 April 30, 13: 98
24779770

BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the major causes of mortality. ABT-263 is a newly synthesized, orally available Bcl-2/xL inhibitor that shows promising efficacy in HCC therapy. ABT-263 inhibits the anti-apoptotic activity of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, but not Mcl-1. Previous reports have shown that ABT-263 upregulates Mcl-1 in various cancer cells, which contributes to ABT-263 resistance in cancer therapy. However, the associated mechanisms are not well known.

METHODS: Western blot, RNAi and CCK-8 assays were used to investigate the relationship between Mcl-1 upregulation and ABT-263 sensitivity in HCC cells. Real-time PCR and Western blot were used to detect Mcl-1 mRNA and protein levels. Luciferase reporter assay and RNA synthesis inhibition assay were adopted to analyze the mechanism of Mcl-1 mRNA upregulation. Western blot and the inhibition assays for protein synthesis and proteasome were used to explore the mechanisms of ABT-263-enhanced Mcl-1 protein stability. Trypan blue exclusion assay and flow cytometry were used to examine cell death and apoptosis.

RESULTS: ABT-263 upregulated Mcl-1 mRNA and protein levels in HCC cells, which contributes to ABT-263 resistance. ABT-263 increased the mRNA level of Mcl-1 in HCC cells by enhancing the mRNA stability without influencing its transcription. Furthermore, ABT-263 increased the protein stability of Mcl-1 through promoting ERK- and JNK-induced phosphorylation of Mcl-1Thr163 and increasing the Akt-mediated inactivation of GSK-3β. Additionally, the inhibitors of ERK, JNK or Akt sensitized ABT-263-induced apoptosis in HCC cells.

CONCLUSIONS: ABT-263 increases Mcl-1 stability at both mRNA and protein levels in HCC cells. Inhibition of ERK, JNK or Akt activity sensitizes ABT-263-induced apoptosis. This study may provide novel insights into the Bcl-2-targeted cancer therapeutics.

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