Antagonist Effect of Triptolide on AKT Activation by Truncated Retinoid X Receptor-alpha

School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Institute for Biomedical Research, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 04/2012; 7(4):e35722. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035722
Source: PubMed


Retinoid X receptor-alpha (RXRα) is a key member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. We recently demonstrated that proteolytic cleavage of RXRα resulted in production of a truncated product, tRXRα, which promotes cancer cell survival by activating phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway. However, how the tRXRα-mediated signaling pathway in cancer cells is regulated remains elusive.
We screened a natural product library for tRXRα targeting leads and identified that triptolide, an active component isolated from traditional Chinese herb Trypterygium wilfordii Hook F, could modulate tRXRα-mediated cancer cell survival pathway in vitro and in animals. Our results reveal that triptolide strongly induces cancer cell apoptosis dependent on intracellular tRXRα expression levels, demonstrating that tRXRα serves as an important intracellular target of triptolide. We show that triptolide selectively induces tRXRα degradation and inhibits tRXRα-dependent AKT activity without affecting the full-length RXRα. Interestingly, such effects of triptolide are due to its activation of p38. Although triptolide also activates Erk1/2 and MAPK pathways, the effects of triptolide on tRXRα degradation and AKT activity are only reversed by p38 siRNA and p38 inhibitor. In addition, the p38 inhibitor potently inhibits tRXRα interaction with p85α leading to AKT inactivation. Our results demonstrate an interesting novel signaling interplay between p38 and AKT through tRXRα mediation. We finally show that targeting tRXRα by triptolide strongly activates TNFα death signaling and enhances the anticancer activity of other chemotherapies.
Our results identify triptolide as a new xenobiotic regulator of the tRXRα-dependent survival pathway and provide new insight into the mechanism by which triptolide acts to induce apoptosis of cancer cells. Triptolide represents one of the most promising therapeutic leads of natural products of traditional Chinese medicine with unfortunate side-effects. Our findings will offer new strategies to develop improved triptolide analogs for cancer therapy.

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Available from: Xiaomei Yan, Jul 03, 2014
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    • "Our previous study showed that triptolide induces prostate cancer cells apoptosis through both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways [24]. However, Lu et al. [41] reported that triptolide strongly induces caspase-9 and PARP cleavages in MCF-7 cells, but fails to activate caspase-8. Carter et al. [42] found that triptolide fails to induce apoptosis in caspase-9 knock-out leukemic cell lines, but remains effective on caspase-8 deficient cells. "
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    ABSTRACT: Triptolide, an active compound extracted from Chinese herb Leigongteng (Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F.), shows a broad-spectrum of anticancer activity through its cytotoxicity. However, the efficacy of triptolide on laryngocarcinoma rarely been evaluated, and the mechanism by which triptolide-induced cellular apoptosis is still not well understood. In this study, we found that triptolide significantly inhibited the laryngocarcinoma HEp-2 cells proliferation, migration and survivability. Triptolide induces HEp-2 cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase and apoptosis through intrinsic and extrinsic pathways since both caspase-8 and -9 are activated. Moreover, triptolide enhances p53 expression by increasing its stability via down-regulation of E6 and E6AP. Increased p53 transactivates down-stream target genes to initiate apoptosis. In addition, we found that short time treatment with triptolide induced DNA damage, which was consistent with the increase in p53. Furthermore, the cytotoxicity of triptolide is decreased by p53 knockdown or use of caspases inhibitor. In conclusion, our results demonstrated that triptolide inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in laryngocarcinoma cells by enhancing p53 expression and activating p53 functions through induction of DNA damage and suppression of E6 mediated p53 degradation. These studies indicate that triptolide is a potential anti-laryngocarcinoma drug.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(11):e80784. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0080784 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Previous studies have shown that apoptosis is mediated by multiple signaling pathways or protein factors including PI3K/Akt, p38 and Erk1/2 MAPK, etc. [13,14]. To determine which pathways are involved in PEP-1-CAT-mediated protection of H/R-injured H9c2 cells, we treated H9c2 with specific inhibitors for each individual pathways. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Catalase (CAT) breaks down H2O2 into H2O and O2 to protects cells from oxidative damage. However, its translational potential is limited because exogenous CAT cannot enter living cells automatically. This study is aimed to investigate if PEP-1-CAT fusion protein can effectively protect cardiomyocytes from oxidative stress due to hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced injury. Methods H9c2 cardomyocytes were pretreated with catalase (CAT) or PEP-1-CAT fusion protein followed by culturing in a hypoxia and re-oxygenation condition. Cell apoptosis were measured by Annexin V and PI double staining and Flow cytometry. Intracellular superoxide anion level was determined, and mitochondrial membrane potential was measured. Expression of apoptosis-related proteins including Bcl-2, Bax, Caspase-3, PARP, p38 and phospho-p38 was analyzed by western blotting. Results PEP-1-CAT protected H9c2 from H/R-induced morphological alteration and reduced the release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and malondialdehyde content. Superoxide anion production was also decreased. In addition, PEP-1-CAT inhibited H9c2 apoptosis and blocked the expression of apoptosis stimulator Bax while increased the expression of Bcl-2, leading to an increased mitochondrial membrane potential. Mechanistically, PEP-1-CAT inhibited p38 MAPK while activating PI3K/Akt and Erk1/2 signaling pathways, resulting in blockade of Bcl2/Bax/mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Conclusion Our study has revealed a novel mechanism by which PEP-1-CAT protects cardiomyocyte from H/R-induced injury. PEP-1-CAT blocks Bcl2/Bax/mitochondrial apoptotic pathway by inhibiting p38 MAPK while activating PI3K/Akt and Erk1/2 signaling pathways.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 05/2013; 11(1):113. DOI:10.1186/1479-5876-11-113 · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RXRα represents an intriguing and unique target for pharmacologic interventions. We recently showed that Sulindac and a designed analog could bind to RXRα and modulate its biological activity, including inhibition of the interaction of an N-terminally truncated RXRα (tRXRα) with the p85α regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3K). Here we report the synthesis, testing and SAR of a series of novel analogs of Sulindac as potential modulators for inhibiting tRXRα-dependent AKT activation. A new compound 30 was identified to have improved biological activity.
    European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 01/2013; 62C:632-648. DOI:10.1016/j.ejmech.2013.01.012 · 3.45 Impact Factor
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