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Cell Biol Toxicol. 2005 Mar;21(2):115-25.

Association of the ERK1/2 and p38 kinase pathways with nitric oxide-induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in colon cancer cells.

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Department of Biology, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.


To investigate the mechanism by which nitric oxide (NO) induces cell death in colon cancer cells, we compared two types of colon cancer cells with different p53 status: HCT116 (p53 wild-type) cells and SW620 (p53-deficient) cells. We found that S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), the NO donor, induced apoptosis in both types of colon cancer cells. However, SW620 cells were much more susceptible than HCT116 cells to apoptotic death by NO. We investigated the role of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and p38 kinase on NO-induced apoptosis in both types of colon cancer cells. GSNO treatment effectively stimulated activation of the ERK1/2 and p38 kinase in both types of cells. In HCT116 cells, pretreatment with PD98059, an inhibitor of ERK1/2, or SB203580, an inhibitor of p38 kinase, had no marked effect on GSNO-induced apoptosis. However, in SW620 cells, SB203580 significantly reduced the NO-induced apoptosis, whereas PD098059 increases NO-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, we found evidence of cell cycle arrest of the G0/G1 phase in SW620 cells but not in HCT116 cells. Inhibition of ERK1/2 with PD098059, or of p38 kinase with SB203580, reduced the GSNO-induced cell cycle arrest of the G0/G1 phase in SW620 cells. We therefore conclude that NO-induced apoptosis in colon cancer cells is mediated by a p53-independent mechanism and that the pathways of ERK1/2 and p38 kinase are important in NO-induced apoptosis and in the cell cycle arrest of the G0/G1 phase.

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