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Cell Signal. 2011 Jan;23(1):152-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2010.08.015. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Down-regulation of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase PDE1A is the key event of p73 and UHRF1 deregulation in thymoquinone-induced acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell apoptosis.

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CNRS UMR 7213 Laboratoire de Biophotonique et Pharmacologie, Université de Strasbourg, Faculté de Pharmacie, 74 route du Rhin, Illkirch, France.


Thymoquinone (TQ), the active principle of Nigella sativa black seeds, has anti-proliferative properties on numerous cancer cell types. Others and we have previously reported that TQ acts as agent that triggers cell cycle arrest and apoptosis through either a p53- or p73-dependent pathway. However, the immediate targets recruited upon TQ-induced cytotoxicity have not yet been clearly identified. We therefore asked whether cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDEs) could be involved in TQ-triggered pro-apoptotic reactivity; PDEs are regulators of intracellular levels of cyclic nucleotides and therefore can modulate cAMP and cGMP-dependent cell death pathways. Our results showed that TQ specifically repressed PDE1A expression in the acute lymphoblastic leukemia Jurkat cell line. This effect is concomitant with the previously described sequential deregulation of the expression of the tumor suppressor protein p73 and the epigenetic integrator UHRF1 (Ubiquitin-like, PHD Ring Finger 1). Interestingly, RNA-interference knock-down of PDE1A expression as well as decreased PDE1A expression induced growth inhibition of Jurkat cells, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis through an activation of p73 and a repression of UHRF1. Conversely, PDE1A re-expression counteracted the cellular pro-apoptotic effects of TQ in association with a p73 repression and UHRF1 re-expression. Altogether, our results show that TQ induced an initial down-regulation of PDE1A with a subsequent down-regulation of UHRF1 via a p73-dependent mechanism. This study further proposes that PDE1A might be involved in the epigenetic code inheritance by regulating, via p73, the epigenetic integrator UHRF1. Our findings also suggest that a forced inhibition of PDE1A expression might be a new therapeutic strategy for the management of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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