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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Nov;13(11):1968-81. Epub 2006 Mar 17.

Aplidin induces JNK-dependent apoptosis in human breast cancer cells via alteration of glutathione homeostasis, Rac1 GTPase activation, and MKP-1 phosphatase downregulation.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas 'Alberto Sols', Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Arturo Duperier, 4, Madrid E-28029, Spain.


Aplidin is an antitumor agent in phase II clinical trials that induces apoptosis through the sustained activation of Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). We report that Aplidin alters glutathione homeostasis increasing the ratio of oxidized to reduced forms (GSSG/GSH). Aplidin generates reactive oxygen species and disrupts the mitochondrial membrane potential. Exogenous GSH inhibits these effects and also JNK activation and cell death. We found two mechanisms by which Aplidin activates JNK: rapid activation of Rac1 small GTPase and downregulation of MKP-1 phosphatase. Rac1 activation was diminished by GSH and enhanced by L-buthionine (SR)-sulfoximine, which inhibits GSH synthesis. Downregulation of Rac1 by transfection of small interfering RNA (siRNA) duplexes or the use of a specific Rac1 inhibitor decreased Aplidin-induced JNK activation and cytotoxicity. Our results show that Aplidin induces apoptosis by increasing the GSSG/GSH ratio, a necessary step for induction of oxidative stress and sustained JNK activation through Rac1 activation and MKP-1 downregulation.

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