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Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Sep;164(2b):731-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01349.x.

Fangchinoline induces autophagic cell death via p53/sestrin2/AMPK signalling in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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  • 1School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Fangchinoline is a novel anti-tumour agent with little known of its cellular and molecular mechanisms of action. Here we have investigated the mode of cell death induced by fangchinoline and its underlying mechanism in two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, HepG2 and PLC/PRF/5.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:

Apoptosis and autophagy were monitored in fangchinoline-treated HepG2 and PLC/PRF/5 cells by histological methods. The signal transduction pathways involved in activation of autophagy were examined, using immunoblotting, real-time PCR and siRNA techniques.

KEY RESULTS:

Fangchinoline did not induce apoptosis in HepG2 and PLC/PRF/5 cells but triggered, dose-dependently, autophagy, an alternative mode of cell death which may contribute to fangchinoline's anti-tumour action. Nuclear translocation of p53 was involved in induction of autophagy by fangchinoline, followed by selective transactivation of the autophagy-related gene sestrin2 and initiation of the autophagic process. Signalling by the AMP-activated protein kinase was also involved as a downstream target of sestrin2 and induced mTOR-independent autophagic cell death in both cell lines. siRNA for Atg 5 or pharmacological block of p53 abolished fangchinoline-induced autophagy and inhibition of autophagy switched cell death to apoptosis in these cells, suggesting that cell death is irreversible once autophagy is induced by fangchinoline.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:

Fangchinoline is a highly specific agent inducing autophagic cell death in hepatocellular carcinoma cells with a novel mechanism, which elucidates the potential of fangchinoline to potentiate programmed cell death in cancer cells.

© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.

PMID:
21418191
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3188903
Free PMC Article
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