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Acetylshikonin induces apoptosis of hepatitis B virus X protein-expressing human hepatocellular carcinoma cells via endoplasmic reticulum stress



Acetylshikonin induces apoptosis of hepatitis B virus X protein-expressing human hepatocellular carcinoma cells via endoplasmic reticulum stress



European Journal of Pharmacology 735: 132-140



Since it has been known that shikonin derived from a medicinal plant possesses anti-cancer activity, we wonder whether acetylshikonin (ASK), a derivate of shikonin, can be used to treat hepatocellular carcinoma cells expressing hepatitis B virus X protein (HBX), an oncoprotein from hepatitis B virus. When ASK was added to Hep3B cells stably expressing HBX, it induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. ASK induced upregulation and export of Nur77 to the cytoplasm and activation of JNK. Likewise, suppression of Nur77 and JNK inactivation protected the cells from ASK-induced apoptosis, indicating that Nur77 upregulation and JNK activation were required for ASK-mediated apoptosis. Furthermore, ASK increased the expression of Bip and ubiquitination levels of cellular proteins, features of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, via the production of reactive oxygen species in a dose-dependent manner. Suppression of reactive oxygen species with N-acetylcysteine reduced levels of Bip protein and ubiquitination levels of cellular proteins during ASK treatment, leading to protection of cells from apoptosis. Cycloheximide treatment reduced ASK-induced ER stress, suggesting that protein synthesis is involved in ASK-induced ER stress. Moreover, we showed using salubrinal, an ER stress inhibitor that reactive oxygen species production, JNK activation, and Nur77 upregulation and its translocation to cytoplasm are necessary for ER-induced stress. Interestingly, we found that JNK inactivation suppresses ASK-induced ER stress, whereas Nur77 siRNA treatment does not, indicating that JNK is required for ASK-induced ER stress. Accordingly, we report that ASK induces ER stress, which is prerequisite for apoptosis of HBX-expressing hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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Accession: 051331635

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PMID: 24769509

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.04.021


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