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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jun 11;285(24):18737-48. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.091694. Epub 2010 Apr 19.

Induction of reactive oxygen species-mediated autophagy by a novel microtubule-modulating agent.

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Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA.


Autophagy is being increasingly implicated in both cell survival and death. However, the intricate relationships between drug-induced autophagy and apoptosis remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that a tubulin-binding noscapine analog, (R)-9-bromo-5-((S)-4,5-dimethoxy-1,3-dihydroisobenzofuran-1-yl)-4-methoxy-6-methyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-[1,3]-di-oxolo[4,5-g]isoquinoline (Red-Br-nos), exerts a novel autophagic response followed by apoptotic cell death in human prostate cancer PC-3 cells. Red-Br-nos-induced autophagy was an early event detectable within 12 h that displayed a wide array of characteristic features including double membranous vacuoles with entrapped organelles, acidic vesicular organelles, and increased expression of LC3-II and beclin-1. Red-Br-nos-triggered release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and attenuation of ROS by tiron, a ROS scavenger, reduced the sub-G(1) population suggesting ROS-dependent apoptosis. Abrogation of ROS also reduced autophagy indicating that ROS triggers autophagy. Pharmacological and genetic approaches to inhibit autophagy uncovered the protective role of Red-Br-nos-induced autophagy in PC-3 cells. Direct effects of the drug on mitochondria viz. disruption of normal cristae architecture and dissipation of mitochondrial transmembrane potential revealed a functional link between ROS generation, autophagy, and apoptosis induction. This is the first report to demonstrate the protective role of ROS-mediated autophagy and induction of caspase-independent ROS-dependent apoptosis in PC-3 cells by Red-Br-nos, a member of the noscapinoid family of microtubule-modulating anticancer agents.

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