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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52572. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052572. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Green tea polyphenols induce p53-dependent and p53-independent apoptosis in prostate cancer cells through two distinct mechanisms.

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Department of Urology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene p53 is commonly observed in human prostate cancer and is associated with therapeutic resistance. We have previously demonstrated that green tea polyphenols (GTP) induce apoptosis in prostate cancer cells irrespective of p53 status. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these observations remain elusive. Here we investigated the mechanisms of GTP-induced apoptosis in human prostate cancer LNCaP cells stably-transfected with short hairpin-RNA against p53 (LNCaPshp53) and control vector (LNCaPshV). GTP treatment induced p53 stabilization and activation of downstream targets p21/waf1 and Bax in a dose-dependent manner specifically in LNCaPshV cells. However, GTP-induced FAS upregulation through activation of c-jun-N-terminal kinase resulted in FADD phosphorylation, caspase-8 activation and truncation of BID, leading to apoptosis in both LNCaPshV and LNCaPshp53 cells. In parallel, treatment of cells with GTP resulted in inhibition of survival pathway, mediated by Akt deactivation and loss of BAD phosphorylation more prominently in LNCaPshp53 cells. These distinct routes of cell death converged to a common pathway, leading to loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, cytochrome c release and activation of terminal caspases, resulting in PARP-cleavage. GTP-induced apoptosis was attenuated with JNK inhibitor, SP600125 in both cell lines; whereas PI3K-Akt inhibitor, LY294002 resulted in increased cell death prominently in LNCaPshp53 cells, establishing the role of two distinct pathways of GTP-mediated apoptosis. Furthermore, GTP exposure resulted in inhibition of class I HDAC protein, accumulation of acetylated histone-H3 in total cellular chromatin, resulting in increased accessibility of transcription factors to bind with the promoter sequences of p21/waf1 and Bax, regardless of the p53 status of cells, consistent with effects elicited by an HDAC inhibitor, trichostatin A. These results demonstrate that GTP induces prostate cancer cell death by two distinct mechanisms regardless of p53 status, thus identifying specific well-defined molecular mechanisms that may be targeted by chemopreventive and/or therapeutic strategies.

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