World journal of surgical oncology

The conformation change of Bcl-2 is involved in arsenic trioxide-induced apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in SGC7901 human gastric cancer cells.

PMID 20403207


Arsenic trioxide has been established as a first-line agent for treating acute promyelocytic leukemia. Experimental data suggest that arsenic trioxide also can have a potential use as chemotherapeutic agent for other malignancies. The precise mechanisms of action of arsenic trioxide have though not been elucidated. As the role of Bcl-2 in arsenic trioxide-mediated cell apoptosis and conformation change of Bcl-2 in response to arsenic trioxide treatment has not been studied. The aim of the present study was to determine whether conformation change of Bcl-2 is involved in the action of arsenic trioxide. Human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells were exposed to different concentrations of arsenic trioxide. Proliferation was measured by using the Kit-8 cell counting assay. Analysis of nuclear morphology was observed by DAPI staining. The apoptosis rates of cells treated with arsenic trioxide were analyzed by flow cytometry using Annexin V-FITC staining. The conformation change of Bcl-2 and Bax activation were detected by immunostaining and Western blot analysis. Total expression of Bcl-2 and Bax were examined by Western blot analysis. Arsenic trioxide inhibited the growth of human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells and induced apoptosis. There were two Bcl-2 phenotypes coexisting in SGC7901 cells and the Bcl-2 cytoprotective phenotype could change into a cytodestructive phenotype following conformational change of Bcl-2, triggered by arsenic trioxide exposure. Bax activation might also be involved in arsenic trioxide-induced Bcl-2 conformational change. Arsenic trioxide did not change levels of total Bcl-2 expression, but up-regulated total Bax expression for the treatment time ranging from 3 to 24 hours. Arsenic trioxide induces apoptosis through induction of Bcl-2 conformational change, Bax activation and up-regulation of total Bax expression rather than affecting total Bcl-2 expression in human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells. The conformational change of Bcl-2 may be a novel described mechanism of arsenic trioxide-induced apoptosis in cancer cells.