PloS one

Cucurbitacin B induced ATM-mediated DNA damage causes G2/M cell cycle arrest in a ROS-dependent manner.

PMID 24505404


Cucurbitacins are a class of triterpenoids widely distributed in plant kingdom with potent anti-cancer activities both in vitro and in vivo by inducing cycle arrest, autophagy, and apoptosis. Cucurbitacin B (Cuc B), could induce S or G2/M cell cycle arrest in cancer cells while the detailed mechanisms remain to be clear. This study was designed to precisely dissect the signaling pathway(s) responsible for Cuc B induced cell cycle arrest in human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial A549 cells. We demonstrated that low concentrations of Cuc B dramatically induced G2/M phase arrest in A549 cells. Cuc B treatment caused DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) without affecting the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), the potential molecular target for Cuc B. Cuc B triggers ATM-activated Chk1-Cdc25C-Cdk1, which could be reversed by both ATM siRNA and Chk1 siRNA. Cuc B also triggers ATM-activated p53-14-3-3-σ pathways, which could be reversed by ATM siRNA. Cuc B treatment also led to increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, which was inhibited by N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) pretreatment. Furthermore, NAC pretreatment inhibited Cuc B induced DNA damage and G2/M phase arrest. Taken together, these results suggested that Cuc B induces DNA damage in A549 cells mediated by increasing intracellular ROS formation, which lead to G2/M cell phase arrest through ATM-activated Chk1-Cdc25C-Cdk1 and p53-14-3-3-σ parallel branches. These observations provide novel mechanisms and potential targets for better understanding of the anti-cancer mechanisms of cucurbitacins.