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PloS one

Pemetrexed induces S-phase arrest and apoptosis via a deregulated activation of Akt signaling pathway.


PMID 24847863

Abstract

Pemetrexed is approved for first-line and maintenance treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The protein kinase Akt/protein kinase B is a well-known regulator of cell survival which is activated by pemetrexed, but its role in pemetrexed-mediated cell death and its molecular mechanisms are unclear. This study showed that stimulation with pemetrexed induced S-phase arrest and cell apoptosis and a parallel increase in sustained Akt phosphorylation and nuclear accumulation in the NSCLC A549 cell line. Inhibition of Akt expression by Akt specific siRNA blocked S-phase arrest and protected cells from apoptosis, indicating an unexpected proapoptotic role of Akt in the pemetrexed-mediated toxicity. Treatment of A549 cells with pharmacological inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), wortmannin and Ly294002, similarly inhibited pemetrexed-induced S-phase arrest and apoptosis and Akt phosphorylation, indicating that PI3K is an upstream mediator of Akt and is involved in pemetrexed-mediated cell death. Previously, we identified cyclin A-associated cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) as the principal kinase that was required for pemetrexed-induced S-phase arrest and apoptosis. The current study showed that inhibition of Akt function and expression by pharmacological inhibitors as well as Akt siRNA drastically inhibited cyclin A/Cdk2 activation. These pemetrexed-mediated biological and molecular events were also observed in a H1299 cell line. Overall, our results indicate that, in contrast to its normal prosurvival role, the activated Akt plays a proapoptotic role in pemetrexed-mediated S-phase arrest and cell death through a mechanism that involves Cdk2/cyclin A activation.

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