Pramanicin Analog Induces Apoptosis in Human Colon Cancer Cells: Critical Roles for Bcl-2, Bim, and p38 MAPK Signaling
Additional Document Info
Pramanicin (PMC) is an antifungal agent that was previously demonstrated to exhibit antiangiogenic and anticancer properties in a few in vitro studies. We initially screened a number of PMC analogs for their cytotoxic effects on HCT116 human colon cancer cells. PMC-A, the analog with the most potent antiproliferative effect was chosen to further interrogate the underlying mechanism of action. PMC-A led to apoptosis through activation of caspase-9 and -3. The apoptotic nature of cell death was confirmed by abrogation of cell death with pretreatment with specific caspase inhibitors. Stress-related MAPKs JNK and p38 were both activated concomittantly with the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of p38 proved to attenuate the cell death induction while pretreatment with JNK inhibitor did not exhibit a protective effect. Resistance of Bax -/- cells and the protective nature of caspase-9 inhibition indicate that mitochondria play a central role in PMC-A induced apoptosis. Early post-exposure elevation of cellular Bim and Bax was followed by a marginal Bcl-2 depletion and Bid cleavage. Further analysis revealed that Bcl-2 downregulation occurs at the mRNA level and is critical to mediate PMC-A induced apoptosis, as ectopic Bcl-2 expression substantially spared the cells from death. Conversely, forced expression of Bim proved to significantly increase cell death. In addition, analyses of p53-/- cells demonstrated that Bcl-2/Bim/Bax modulation and MAPK activations take place independently of p53 expression. Taken together, p53-independent transcriptional Bcl-2 downregulation and p38 signaling appear to be the key modulatory events in PMC-A induced apoptosis.