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Arch Toxicol. 2013 May;87(5):835-46. doi: 10.1007/s00204-012-0991-3. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

A novel antitubulin agent, DPQZ, induces cell apoptosis in human oral cancer cells through Ras/Raf inhibition and MAP kinases activation.

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School of Pharmacy, China Medical University, 91, Hsueh-Shih Road, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan.


6-(N,N-Dimethylamino)-2-(naphthalene-1-yl)-4-quinazolinone (DPQZ)-induced apoptosis was accompanied by the characteristics of DNA fragmentation and phosphatidylserine externalization in human oral cancer HSC-3 cells. The IC50 (half maximal inhibitory concentration) value of DPQZ is about 0.25 μM at 24 h. The interference in the dynamics of tubulin and cell division of DPQZ, like vinblastine (0.01 μM), has been proven in this study. Treatment of HSC-3 cells with DPQZ resulted in many of mitotic cells with multipolar spindles. Up-regulation of MAP kinases, such as ERK, JNK, and p38, mediated by DPQZ appears to be involved in DPQZ-induced apoptosis in HSC-3 cells. It is worthy of note that the expression of Ras and c-Raf that lie upstream of ERK were inhibited by DPQZ. In addition, the DPQZ-induced cell death was attenuated by JNK inhibitor SP600125 (3 or 10 μM), not by the ERK or p38 inhibitors. JNK inhibitor abolished the DPQZ-induced increase in the phosphorylation of Bcl-2 and the protein levels of proform caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9, indicating that JNK is an upstream activator of Bcl-2 and caspase family members and plays a key role in DPQZ-induced HSC-3 cell apoptosis. We also attempted to develop an anticancer drug that is designed to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells while causing less damage to normal cells. The DPQZ-induced cytotoxicity against human gingival fibroblasts was less than that against HSC-3 cells. Our work provides a new strategy and mechanism for developing anticancer drug and may contribute to clinical anticancer drug discovery and application.

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