Emodin enhances gefitinib-induced cytotoxicity via Rad51 downregulation and ERK1/2 inactivation

Molecular Genetics of Microorganisms Laboratory, Department of Biochemical Science and Technology, National Chiayi University, Chiayi, Taiwan.
Experimental Cell Research (Impact Factor: 3.25). 07/2009; 315(15):2658-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2009.06.002
Source: PubMed


Emodin, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is a natural anthraquinone derivative found in the roots and rhizomes of numerous plants. It reportedly exhibits an anticancer effect on lung cancer. Gefitinib (Iressa) is a selective epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor for human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the molecular mechanism of how emodin combined with gefitinib decreases NSCLC cell viability is unclear. The recombinase protein Rad51 is essential for homologous recombination repair, and Rad51 overexpression is resistant to DNA double-strand break-inducing cancer therapies. In this study, we found that emodin enhanced the cytotoxicity induced by gefitinib in two NSCLC cells lines, A549 and H1650. Emodin at low doses of 2-10 microM did not affect ERK1/2 activation, mRNA, and Rad51 protein levels; however, it enhanced a gefitinib-induced decrease in phospho-ERK1/2 and Rad51 protein levels by enhancing Rad51 protein instability. Expression of constitutively active MKK1/2 vectors (MKK1/2-CA) significantly rescued the reduced phospho-ERK1/2 and Rad51 protein levels as well as cell viability on gefitinib and emodin cotreatment. Blocking of ERK1/2 activation by U0126 (an MKK1/2 inhibitor) lowered Rad51 protein levels and cell viability in emodin-treated H1650 and A549 cells. Knockdown of Rad51 expression by transfection with si-Rad51 RNA enhanced emodin cytotoxicity. In contrast, Rad51 overexpression protected the cells from the cytotoxic effects induced by emodin and gefitinib. Consequently, emodin-gefitinib cotreatment may serve as the basis for a novel and better therapeutic modality in the management of advanced lung cancer.

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    • "Treatment of cervical cancer cells with curcumin led to enhanced production of IR-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), which causes sustained ERK1/2-MAPK activation [37]. In contrast, emodin, a substance found in some plants including rhubarb, was reported to inhibit the activation of ERK1/2 in lung cancer cells, which in turn leads to a downregulation of RAD51 and confers chemosensitivity [38], [39]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCC) have poor prognosis. While combined modality of chemotherapy and radiotherapy increases survival, most patients die within five years. Development of agents that confer cancer cell-specific chemo- and radiosensitivity may improve the therapy of ESCC. We here reported the discovery of berberine as a potent radiosensitizing agent on ESCC cells. Berberine at low concentrations (<15 µM) substantially radiosensitized ESCC cells. X-ray induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) persist longer in ESCC cells pretreated with berberine. Berberine pretreatment led to a significant downregulation of RAD51, a key player in homologous recombination repair, in ESCC cells, but not in non-malignant human cells. Downregulation of RAD51 by RNA interference similarly radiosensitized the cancer cells, and, conversely, introduction of exogenous RAD51 was able to significantly counteract the radiosensitizing effect of berberine, thus establishing RAD51 as a key determinant in radiation sensitivity. We also observed that RAD51 was commonly overexpressed in human ESCC tissues, suggesting that it is necessary to downregulate RAD51 to achieve high radio- or chemotherapeutic efficacy of ESCC in clinic, because overexpression of RAD51 is known to confer radio- and chemoresistance. Berberine can effectively downregulate RAD51 in conferring radiosensitivity on esophageal cancer cells. Its clinical application as an adjuvant in chemotherapy and radiotherapy of esophageal cancers should be explored.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Also, emodin-triggered apoptosis is mediated through the caspase- and mitochondria-dependent pathways in proximal tubular epithelial HK-2 cells [12]. Emodin enhanced gefitinib-induced cytotoxicity via Rad51 downregulation and ERK1/2 inactivation in human breast cancer BCap-37 cells [13]. Therefore, emodin has now been proposed as a potential agent in the management of tumors [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Emodin is one of major compounds in rhubarb (Rheum palmatum L.), a plant used as herbal medicine in Chinese population. Although many reports have shown that emodin exhibits anticancer activity in many tumor cell types, there is no available information addressing emodin-affected apoptotic responses in the murine leukemia cell line (WEHI-3) and modulation of the immune response in leukemia mice. We investigated that emodin induced cytotoxic effects in vitro and affected WEHI-3 cells in vivo. This study showed that emodin decreased viability and induced DNA fragmentation in WEHI-3 cells. Cells after exposure to emodin for 24 h have shown chromatin condensation and DNA damage. Emodin stimulated the productions of ROS and Ca(2+) and reduced the level of ΔΨ(m) by flow cytometry. Our results from Western blotting suggest that emodin triggered apoptosis of WEHI-3 cells through the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, caspase cascade-dependent and -independent mitochondrial pathways. In in vivo study, emodin enhanced the levels of B cells and monocytes, and it also reduced the weights of liver and spleen compared with leukemia mice. Emodin promoted phagocytic activity by monocytes and macrophages in comparison to the leukemia mice group. In conclusions, emodin induced apoptotic death in murine leukemia WEHI-3 cells and enhanced phagocytosis in the leukemia animal model.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, a number of natural products isolated from Chinese herbs have been found to inhibit proliferation, induce apoptosis, suppress angiogenesis, retard metastasis and enhance chemotherapy, exhibiting anti-cancer potential both in vitro and in vivo. This article summarizes recent advances in in vitro and in vivo research on the anti-cancer effects and related mechanisms of some promising natural products. These natural products are also reviewed for their therapeutic potentials, including flavonoids (gambogic acid, curcumin, wogonin and silibinin), alkaloids (berberine), terpenes (artemisinin, β-elemene, oridonin, triptolide, and ursolic acid), quinones (shikonin and emodin) and saponins (ginsenoside Rg3), which are isolated from Chinese medicinal herbs. In particular, the discovery of the new use of artemisinin derivatives as excellent anti-cancer drugs is also reviewed.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Chinese Medicine
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