BMC cancer

Sanguinarine triggers intrinsic apoptosis to suppress colorectal cancer growth through disassociation between STRAP and MELK.

PMID 29783958


Previous studies showed sanguinarine induced apoptosis in CRC cells but did not define the underlying mechanisms. The purpose of this work was to determine the in vivo and in vitro effects of sanguinarine on CRC tumors and to elucidate the mechanism in regulating the intrinsic apoptosis. Cell viability of CRC cell lines treated with sanguinarine was measured by MTT assay. Apoptotic cells stained with Annexin V and 7-AAD were detected by flow cytometry. Mitochondrial membrane potential and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were analyzed by JC-1 and DCFH-DA staining, respectively. The in vitro kinase activity of MELK was analyzed by using HTRF® KinEASE™-STK kit. The expression of proteins were determined using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorecence were used to study the interaction between STRAP and MELK. The anti-neoplastic effect of sanguinarine was observed in vivo in an orthotopic CRC model. Sanguinarine decreased the tumor size in a dose-dependent manner in orthotopical colorectal carcinomas through intrinsic apoptosis pathway in BALB/c-nu mice. It significantly increased cleavage of caspase 3 and PARP in implanted colorectal tissues. Sanguinarine increased mitochondrial ROS and triggered mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization in multiple colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines. NAC pretreatment lowered ROS level and downregulated apoptosis induced by sanguinarine. The intrinsic apoptosis induced by sanguinarine was Bax-dependent. The elevated expression and association between serine-threonine kinase receptor-associated protein (STRAP) and maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) were observed in Bax positive cells but not in Bax negative cells. Sanguinarine dephosphorylated STRAP and MELK and disrupted the association between them in HCT116 and SW480 cells. The expression and association between STRAP and MELK were also attenuated by sanguinarine in the tumor tissues. Importantly, we found that STRAP and MELK were overexpressed and highly phosphorylated in colorectal adenocarcinomas and their expression were significantly correlated with tumor stages. Furthermore, the expression of MELK, but not STRAP, was associated with lymph node metastasis. Sanguinarine dephosphorelates STRAP and MELK and disassociates the interaction between them to trigger intrinsic apoptosis. Overexpression of STRAP and MELK may be markers of CRC and their disassociation may be a determinant of therapeutic efficacy.