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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 May 1;382(2):451-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.03.051. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

Inhibition of macroautophagy by bafilomycin A1 lowers proliferation and induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells.

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Department of Gastroenterology, The First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, PR China.


Macroautophagy is a process by which cytoplasmic content and organelles are sequestered by double-membrane bound vesicles and subsequently delivered to lysosomes for degradation. Macroautophagy serves as a major intracellular pathway for protein degradation and as a pro-survival mechanism in time of stress by generating nutrients. In the present study, bafilomycin A(1), a vacuolar type H(+)-ATPase inhibitor, suppresses macroautophagy by preventing acidification of lysosomes in colon cancer cells. Diminished macroautophagy was evidenced by the accumulation of undegraded LC3 protein. Suppression of macroautophagy by bafilomycin A(1) induced G(0)/G(1) cell cycle arrest and apoptosis which were accompanied by the down-regulation of cyclin D(1) and cyclin E, the up-regulation of p21(Cip1) as well as cleavages of caspases-3, -7, -8, and -9 and PARP. Further investigation revealed that bafilomycin A(1) increased the phosphorylation of ERK, JNK, and p38. In this regard, p38 inhibitor partially reversed the anti-proliferative effect of bafilomycin A(1). To conclude, inhibition of macroautophagy by bafilomycin A(1) lowers G(1)-S transition and induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells. Our results not only indicate that inhibitors of macroautophagy may be used therapeutically to inhibit cancer growth, but also delineate the relationship between macroautophagy and apoptosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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