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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jun;1833(6):1356-66. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.02.014. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Hsp90 inhibition by PU-H71 induces apoptosis through endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial pathway in cancer cells and overcomes the resistance conferred by Bcl-2.

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INSERM UMR S-769, LabEx LERMIT, Ch√Ętenay-Malabry, France.


Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) has recently emerged as an attractive therapeutic target in cancer treatment because of its role in stabilizing the active form of a wide range of client oncoproteins. This study investigated the mechanism of apoptosis induced by the purine-scaffold Hsp90 inhibitor PU-H71 in different human cancer cell lines and examined the role of Bcl-2 and Bax in this process. We demonstrated that Hsp90 inhibition by PU-H71 generated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activated the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) as evidenced by XBP1 mRNA splicing and up-regulation of Grp94, Grp78, ATF4 and CHOP. In response to PU-H71-induced ER stress, apoptosis was triggered in melanoma, cervix, colon, liver and lung cancer cells, but not in normal human fibroblasts. Apoptosis was executed through the mitochondrial pathway as shown by down-regulation of Bcl-2, up-regulation and activation of Bax, permeabilization of mitochondrial membranes, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspases. We also found that, in contrast to the ER stressor thapsigargin, PU-H71 induced apoptosis in cells overexpressing Bcl-2 and thus overcame the resistance conferred by this anti-apoptotic protein. In addition, although Bax deficiency rendered cells resistant to PU-H71, combined treatment with the anticancer drugs cisplatin or melphalan greatly sensitized these cells to PU-H71. Taken together, these data suggest that inhibition of Hsp90 by PU-H71 is a promising strategy for cancer treatment, particularly in the case of tumors resistant to conventional chemotherapy.

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