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J Nat Prod. 2015 Apr 24;78(4):762-75. doi: 10.1021/np501007n. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

Pharmacogenomic Characterization of Cytotoxic Compounds from Salvia officinalis in Cancer Cells.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, Staudinger Weg 5, 55128 Mainz, Germany.


Salvia officinalis is used as a dietary supplement with diverse medicinal activity (e.g. antidiabetic and antiatherosclerotic effects). The plant also exerts profound cytotoxicity toward cancer cells. Here, we investigated possible modes of action to explain its activity toward drug-resistant tumor cells. Log10IC50 values of two constituents of S. officinalis (ursolic acid, pomolic acid) were correlated to the expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters (P-glycoprotein/ABCB1/MDR1, MRP1/ABCC1, BCRP/ABCG2) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or mutations in RAS oncogenes and the tumor suppressor gene TP53 of the NCI panel of cell lines. Gene expression profiles predicting sensitivity and resistance of tumor cells to these compounds were determined by microarray-based mRNA expressions, COMPARE, and hierarchical cluster analyses. Furthermore, the binding of both plant acids to key molecules of the NF-κB pathway (NF-κB, I-κB, NEMO) was analyzed by molecular docking. Neither expression nor mutation of ABC transporters, oncogenes, or tumor suppressor genes correlated with log10IC50 values for ursolic acid or pomolic acid. In microarray analyses, many genes involved in signal transduction processes correlated with cellular responsiveness to these compounds. Molecular docking indicated that the two plant acids strongly bound to target proteins of the NF-κB pathway with even lower free binding energies than the known NF-κB inhibitor MG-132. They interacted more strongly with DNA-bound NF-κB than free NF-κB, pointing to inhibition of DNA binding by these compounds. In conclusion, the lack of cross-resistance to classical drug resistance mechanisms (ABC-transporters, oncogenes, tumor suppressors) may indicate a promising role of the both plant acids for cancer chemotherapy. Genes involved in signal transduction may contribute to the sensitivity or resistance of tumor cells to ursolic and pomolic acids. Ursolic and pomolic acid may target different steps of the NF-κB pathway to inhibit NF-κB-mediated functions.

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