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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 2;5(4):e9996. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009996.

Simultaneous induction of non-canonical autophagy and apoptosis in cancer cells by ROS-dependent ERK and JNK activation.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chemotherapy-induced reduction in tumor load is a function of apoptotic cell death, orchestrated by intracellular caspases. However, the effectiveness of these therapies is compromised by mutations affecting specific genes, controlling and/or regulating apoptotic signaling. Therefore, it is desirable to identify novel pathways of cell death, which could function in tandem with or in the absence of efficient apoptotic machinery. In this regard, recent evidence supports the existence of a novel cell death pathway termed autophagy, which is activated upon growth factor deprivation or exposure to genotoxic compounds. The functional relevance of this pathway in terms of its ability to serve as a stress response or a truly death effector mechanism is still in question; however, reports indicate that autophagy is a specialized form of cell death under certain conditions.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We report here the simultaneous induction of non-canonical autophagy and apoptosis in human cancer cells upon exposure to a small molecule compound that triggers intracellular hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) production. Whereas, silencing of beclin1 neither inhibited the hallmarks of autophagy nor the induction of cell death, Atg 7 or Ulk1 knockdown significantly abrogated drug-induced H(2)O(2)-mediated autophagy. Furthermore, we provide evidence that activated extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) are upstream effectors controlling both autophagy and apoptosis in response to elevated intracellular H(2)O(2). Interestingly, inhibition of JNK activity reversed the increase in Atg7 expression in this system, thus indicating that JNK may regulate autophagy by activating Atg7. Of note, the small molecule compound triggered autophagy and apoptosis in primary cells derived from patients with lymphoma, but not in non-transformed cells.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Considering that loss of tumor suppressor beclin 1 is associated with neoplasia, the ability of this small molecule compound to engage both autophagic and apoptotic machineries via ROS production and subsequent activation of ERK and JNK could have potential translational implications.

PMID:
20368806
PMCID:
PMC2848860
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0009996
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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