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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Nov 4;336(4):1081-6.

Triptolide, a diterpenoid triepoxide, induces antitumor proliferation via activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase 1 by decreasing phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in human tumor cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science, School of Pharmacy, Hachioji, Japan.


Triptolide, a diterpenoid triepoxide extracted from the Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook f., exerts antitumorigenic actions against several tumor cells, but the intracellular target signal molecule(s) for this antitumorigenesis activity of triptolide remains to be identified. In the present study, we demonstrated that triptolide, in a dose-dependent manner, inhibited the proliferation of human fibrosarcoma HT-1080, human squamous carcinoma SAS, and human uterine cervical carcinoma SKG-II cells. In addition, triptolide was found to decrease phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity. A PI3K inhibitor, LY-294002, mimicked the triptolide-induced antiproliferative activity in HT-1080, SAS, and SKG-II cells. There was no change in the activity of Akt or protein kinase C (PKC), both of which are downstream effectors in the PI3K pathway. Furthermore, the phosphorylation of Ras, Raf, and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 was not modified in HT-1080 cells treated with triptolide. However, the phosphorylation of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) was found to increase in both triptolide- and LY-294002-treated cells. Furthermore, the triptolide-induced inhibition of HT-1080 cell proliferation was not observed by JNK1 siRNA-treatment. These results provide novel evidence that PI3K is a crucial target molecule in the antitumorigenic action of triptolide. They further suggest a possible triptolide-induced inhibitory signal for tumor cell proliferation that is initiated by the decrease in PI3K activity, which in turn leads to the augmentation of JNK1 phosphorylation via the Akt and/or PKC-independent pathway(s). Moreover, it is likely that the activation of JNK1 is required for the triptolide-induced inhibition of tumor proliferation.

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