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Polyphyllin D "Punctures" Hypertrophic Lysosomes to Reverse Drug Resistance of Hepatocellular Carcinoma by Targeting Acid Sphingomyelinase.

Molecular Therapy 2023 May 22
Hypertrophic lysosomes are critical for tumor progression and drug resistance; however, effective and specific lysosome targeting compounds for cancer therapy are lacking. Here we conducted a lysosomotropic pharmacophore-based in silico screen in a natural product library (2212 compounds), and identified Polyphyllin D (PD) as a novel lysosome-targeted compound. PD treatment was found to cause lysosomal damage, as evidenced by the blockade of autophagic flux, loss of lysophagy, and the release of lysosomal contents, thus exhibiting anticancer effects on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell both in vitro and in vivo. Closer mechanistic examination revealed that PD suppressed the activity of acid Sphingomyelinase (SMPD1), a lysosomal phosphodieserase that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin to produce ceramide and phosphocholine, by directly occupying its surface groove, with Trp148 in SMPD1 acting as a major binding residue; this suppression of SMPD1 activity irreversibly triggers lysosomal injury and initiates lysosome-dependent cell death. Furthermore, PD-enhanced lysosomal membrane permeabilization to release sorafenib, augmenting the anticancer effect of sorafenib both in vivo and in vitro. Overall, our study suggests that PD can potentially be further developed as a novel autophagy inhibitor, and a combination of PD with classical chemotherapeutic anticancer drugs could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for HCC intervention.

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