PP2A mediates apoptosis or autophagic cell death in multiple myeloma cell lines.

PMID 29113343


The crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy contributes to tumorigenesis and cancer therapy. The process by which BetA (betulinic acid), a naturally occurring triterpenoid, regulates apoptosis and autophagy as a cancer therapy is unclear. In this study, we show for the first time that protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) acts as a switch to regulate apoptosis and autophagic cell death mediated by BetA. Under normal conditions, caspase-3 is activated by the mitochondrial pathway upon BetA treatment. Activated caspase-3 cleaves the A subunit of PP2A (PP2A/A), resulting in the association of PP2A and Akt. This association inactivates Akt to initiate apoptosis. Overexpression of Bcl-2 attenuates the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway, resulting in caspase-3 inactivation and the dissociation of PP2A and Akt. PP2A isolated from Akt binds with DAPK to induce autophagic cell death. Meanwhile, in vivo tumor experiments have demonstrated that BetA initiates different types of cell death in a myeloma xenograft model. Thus, PP2A can shift myeloma cells from apoptosis to autophagic cell death. These findings have important implications for the therapeutic application of BetA, particularly against apoptosis-resistant cancers.