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Life Sci. 2007 Jan 30;80(8):767-74. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Gossypol induces apoptosis in human PC-3 prostate cancer cells by modulating caspase-dependent and caspase-independent cell death pathways.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA.


The rate of gossypol-induced apoptosis does not correlate very well with the same dose of gossypol-induced cell growth inhibition, indicating an anti-proliferative effect of gossypol. Using a co-immunoprecipitation assay, it was observed that the level of Bcl-X(L) protein bound to Bax was clearly lower than that of Bcl-2 protein at 5 micro M of gossypol treatment, and the level of Bim protein bound to Bcl-X(L) was lowered at 20 micro M of gossypol treatment for 24 h, implicating that gossypol inhibits the heterodimerization of Bcl-X(L) with Bax and Bim. Gossypol-induced apoptosis is partly suppressed by as low as 0.5 micro M, but not abolished by as high as 50 micro M of a broad range caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK, suggesting that gossypol-induced apoptosis is both caspase-dependent and -independent. Furthermore, the release of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF), which triggers caspase-independent apoptosis, from mitochondria to cytosol was observed in PC-3 cells exposed to gossypol treatment. In conclusion, gossypol inhibits the proliferation and induces apoptosis in PC-3 cells. Gossypol-induced apoptosis is, at least, through inhibiting the heterodimerization of Bcl-X(L)/Bcl-2 with pro-apoptosis molecules, followed by a caspase-dependent and -independent process which involves the release of AIF from the mitochondria to cytosol.

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