Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Cucurbitacin B Alters the Expression of Tumor-Related Genes by Epigenetic Modifications in NSCLC and Inhibits NNK-Induced Lung Tumorigenesis.

PMID 25813524


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents almost 85% of total diagnosed lung cancer. Studies have shown that combination of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors is effective against various cancers, including lung cancer. However, optimizing the synergistic dose regime is very difficult and involves adverse side effects. Therefore, in this study, we have shown that cucurbitacin B (CuB), a single bioactive triterpenoid compound, inhibits both DNMTs and HDACs starting at a very low dose of 60 nmol/L in NSCLC H1299 cells. The CuB-mediated inhibition of DNMTs and HDACs in H1299 cells leads to the reactivation of key tumor suppressor genes (TSG) such as CDKN1A and CDKN2A, as well as downregulation of oncogenes c-MYC and K-RAS and key tumor promoter gene (TPG), human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). The upregulation of TSGs and downregulation of TPG were consistently correlated with the alterations in their promoter methylation and histone modifications. This altered expression of TPG and TSGs is, at least in part, responsible for the inhibition of cellular proliferation and induction of cellular apoptosis in NSCLC. Furthermore, CuB treatment significantly inhibited the tumor incidence and multiplicity in 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice, which was associated with the induction of apoptosis and inhibition of hyperproliferation in the lung tissues. Together, our study provides new insight into the CuB-mediated epigenetic alterations and its chemotherapeutic effects on lung cancer.