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Ai Zheng. 2007 Aug;26(8):809-14.

[Apoptosis of human leukemia HL-60 cells induced by rhabdastrellic acid-A and its mechanisms].

[Article in Chinese]

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State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510060, PR China.



Rhabdastrellic acid-A is an isomalabaricane triterpenoid isolated from the sponge Rhabdastrella globostellata from South China Sea. Our previous study indicated that rhabdastrellic acid-A can inhibit the proliferation of many types of tumor cells with minor toxicity. This study was to investigate the apoptosis of human leukemia HL-60 cells induced by rhabdastrellic acid-A and its possible mechanisms.


Inhibitory effect of rhabdastrellic acid-A on the proliferation of HL-60 cells was evaluated by MTT assay. DNA fragmentation was analyzed by agarose electrophoresis. Cell morphology was observed under fluorescent microscope. The protein levels of Caspase-3, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), P73, Bcl-2 and Bax were analyzed by Western blot. The expression profile of apoptosis-related genes was analyzed by gene microarray. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was conducted to confirm some altered genes identified by gene microarray.


Rhabdastrellic acid-A inhibited the proliferation of HL-60 cells and the 50% inhibition concentration (IC50) was (0.64+/-0.21) microg/ml. When treated with 1 microg/ml rhabdastrellic acid-A for 36 h, condensation of nuclear chromatin of HL-60 cells was observed under fluorescent microscope and DNA fragmentation was observed by agarose electrophoresis. Also, rhabdastrellic acid-A induced cleavage of PARP and Caspase-3. The mRNA levels of 44 genes, including p73, JunD, TNFAIP3 and GADD45A, were up-regulated and the mRNA levels of 16 genes, including MAP2K5 and IGF2R, were down-regulated. The results were further confirmed by RT-PCR. The protein level of P73 was up-regulated after rhabdastrellic acid-A treatment.


Rhabdastrellic acid-A could induce the apoptosis of HL-60 cells which may be related to the up-regulation of apoptosis-related genes such as p73 and JunD, and the down-regulation of MAP2K5 and IGF2R.

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