Gene Summary

Gene:BECN1; beclin 1, autophagy related
Aliases: ATG6, VPS30, beclin1
Summary:Beclin-1 participates in the regulation of autophagy and has an important role in development, tumorigenesis, and neurodegeneration (Zhong et al., 2009 [PubMed 19270693]).[supplied by OMIM, Jul 2010]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 17 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: BECN1 (cancer-related)

Jung G, Roh J, Lee H, et al.
Autophagic Markers BECLIN 1 and LC3 are Associated with Prognosis of Multiple Myeloma.
Acta Haematol. 2015; 134(1):17-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Autophagy is crucial for the survival and function of plasma cells including protection from toxic misfolded immunoglobulin and proper energy metabolism. Multiple myeloma (MM) is an indolent but eventually fatal neoplasm of plasma cells. Autophagy may play a critical role in the survival of MM cells and their response to chemotherapeutic agents. In this study, we correlated the expression of autophagy-related proteins with the prognosis of MM.
METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, we examined the expression of the autophagic markers BECLIN 1 and microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3) in 89 cases of MM biopsied from 2001 to 2004 at the Asan Medical Center. The association of the expression scores of these markers with clinical outcomes was assessed.
RESULTS: Patients with strong immunoreactivity to BECLIN 1 or LC3 had a significantly better overall survival (OS) than patients with negative to moderate immunoreactivity (p = 0.036 and 0.018, respectively). This was also true for disease-specific survival (DSS; p = 0.051 and 0.043, respectively). In addition, LC3 immunostaining remained an independent factor impacting OS (p = 0.028) and DSS (p = 0.020) after multivariate analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that higher immunoreactivity for autophagic markers in MM is associated with superior patient survival.

Kristensen L, Kristensen T, Abildgaard N, et al.
High expression of PI3K core complex genes is associated with poor prognosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leuk Res. 2015; 39(6):555-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia among adults in the Western world. Autophagy is a highly conserved process in eukaryotic cells. In CLL autophagy is involved in mediating the effect of chemotherapy but the role of autophagy in CLL pathogenesis remains unknown. In the present study, we used real-time RT-PCR to analyze expression of the PIK3C3, PIK3R4, and BECN1 genes. These genes encode the components of the PI3K core complex, which is central to initiation of autophagy. A consecutive series of 149 well-characterized CLL cases from Region of Southern Denmark were included in the study. All three genes were observed to be independent markers of prognosis in CLL with high expression being associated with more aggressive disease. With this clear association with outcome in CLL, these genes thereby represent promising candidates for future functional studies on the role of autophagy in CLL, and they may further represent targets of treatment.

Su X, Wang X, Liu Q, et al.
The role of Beclin 1 in SDT-induced apoptosis and autophagy in human leukemia cells.
Int J Radiat Biol. 2015; 91(6):472-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To prove the occurrence of autophagy after treatment by protoporphyrin IX (PpIX)-mediated sonodynamic therapy (SDT) of human chronic myelogenous leukemia K562 cells as well as its relationship with apoptosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenylter-trazolium bromide tetrazolium (MTT) assay was adopted to examine cytotoxicity of different treatments. Nuclear morphology changes were observed under a fluorescence microscopy with 4'-6-Diamidino-2-Phenylindole (DAPI) staining. Western blotting was used to analyze the expression of caspase-3, Beclin 1 (BECN 1) and the conversion of LC3- phosphatidylethanolamine conjugate/a cytosolic form of LC3 (LC3 II/I). Fluorescence microscope was used to identify the formation of autophagic vacuoles (AVO) during autophagy.
RESULTS: Under optimal conditions, SDT was shown to induce autophagy in K562 cells, which caused the up-regulation of Beclin-1 and the formation of AVO. In addition, pre-treatment of cancer cells with Beclin 1-targeted short hairpin RNA (Beclin 1 shRNA) was shown to reduce the level of LC3-II accumulation and staining with punctate spots of monodansylcadaverine (MDC) staining. Besides, the cytotoxic effect of SDT was significantly increased by Beclin 1 shRNA. Furthermore, studies showed a marked effect on the apoptosis of cells by Beclin 1 shRNA to sonodamage with increased DAPI staining and caspase-3 cleavage.
CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrated that SDT significantly induced autophagy of K562 cells, probably to protect the K562 cells from sonodamage.

Zheng B, Zhu H, Gu D, et al.
MiRNA-30a-mediated autophagy inhibition sensitizes renal cell carcinoma cells to sorafenib.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 459(2):234-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chemotherapy-induced autophagy activation often contributes to cancer resistance. MiRNA-30a (miR-30a) is a potent inhibitor of autophagy by downregulating Beclin-1. In this study, we characterized the role of miR-30a in sorafenib-induced activity in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) cells. We found that expression of miR-30a was significantly downregulated in several human RCC tissues and in RCC cell lines. Accordingly, its targeted gene Beclin-1 was upregulated. Sorafenib activated autophagy in RCC cells (786-0 and A489 lines), evidenced by p62 degradation, Beclin-1/autophagy protein 5 (ATG-5) upregulation and light chain (LC)3B-I/-II conversion. Exogenously expressing miR-30a in 786-0 or A489 cells inhibited Beclin-1 expression and enhanced sorafenib-induced cytotoxicity. In contrast, knockdown of miR-30a by introducing antagomiR-30a increased Beclin-1 expression, and inhibited sorafenib-induced cytotoxicity against RCC cells. Autophagy inhibitors, including chloroquine, 3-methyaldenine or Bafliomycin A1, enhanced sorafenib activity, causing substantial cell apoptosis. Meanwhile, knockdown of Beclin-1 or ATG-5 by targeted siRNAs also increased sorafenib-induced cytotoxicity in above RCC cells. These findings indicate that dysregulation of miR-30a in RCC may interfere with the effectiveness of sorafenib-mediated apoptosis by an autophagy-dependent pathway, thus representing a novel potential therapeutic target for RCC.

Tavallai M, Hamed HA, Roberts JL, et al.
Nexavar/Stivarga and viagra interact to kill tumor cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(9):2281-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
We determined whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib or its derivative regorafenib interacted with phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors such as Viagra (sildenafil) to kill tumor cells. PDE5 and PDGFRα/β were over-expressed in liver tumors compared to normal liver tissue. In multiple cell types in vitro sorafenib/regorafenib and PDE5 inhibitors interacted in a greater than additive fashion to cause tumor cell death, regardless of whether cells were grown in 10 or 100% human serum. Knock down of PDE5 or of PDGFRα/β recapitulated the effects of the individual drugs. The drug combination increased ROS/RNS levels that were causal in cell killing. Inhibition of CD95/FADD/caspase 8 signaling suppressed drug combination toxicity. Knock down of ULK-1, Beclin1, or ATG5 suppressed drug combination lethality. The drug combination inactivated ERK, AKT, p70 S6K, and mTOR and activated JNK. The drug combination also reduced mTOR protein expression. Activation of ERK or AKT was modestly protective whereas re-expression of an activated mTOR protein or inhibition of JNK signaling almost abolished drug combination toxicity. Sildenafil and sorafenib/regorafenib interacted in vivo to suppress xenograft tumor growth using liver and colon cancer cells. From multiplex assays on tumor tissue and plasma, we discovered that increased FGF levels and ERBB1 and AKT phosphorylation were biomarkers that were directly associated with lower levels of cell killing by 'rafenib + sildenafil. Our data are now being translated into the clinic for further determination as to whether this drug combination is a useful anti-tumor therapy for solid tumor patients.

Wang X, Zhang J, Fu J, et al.
Role of ROS-mediated autophagy in radiation-induced bystander effect of hepatoma cells.
Int J Radiat Biol. 2015; 91(5):452-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Autophagy plays a crucial role in cellular response to ionizing radiation, but it is unclear whether autophagy can modulate radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE). Here, we investigated the relationship between bystander damage and autophagy in human hepatoma cells of HepG2.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: HepG2 cells were treated with conditioned medium (CM) collected from 3 Gy γ-rays irradiated hepatoma HepG2 cells for 4, 12, or 24 h, followed by the measurement of micronuclei (MN), intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), and protein expressions of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) and Beclin-1 in the bystander HepG2 cells. In some experiments, the bystander HepG2 cells were respectively transfected with LC3 small interfering RNA (siRNA), Beclin-1 siRNA or treated with 1% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO).
RESULTS: Additional MN and mitochondrial dysfunction coupled with ROS were induced in the bystander cells. The expressions of protein markers of autophagy, LC3-II/LC3-I and Beclin-1, increased in the bystander cells. The inductions of bystander MN and overexpressions of LC3 and Beclin-1 were significantly diminished by DMSO. However, when the bystander cells were transfected with LC3 siRNA or Beclin-1 siRNA, the yield of bystander MN was significantly enhanced.
CONCLUSION: The elevated ROS have bi-functions in balancing the bystander effects. One is to cause MN and the other is to induce protective autophagy.

Schwartz-Roberts JL, Cook KL, Chen C, et al.
Interferon regulatory factor-1 signaling regulates the switch between autophagy and apoptosis to determine breast cancer cell fate.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(6):1046-55 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2016 Related Publications
Interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF1) is a tumor suppressor that regulates cell fate in several cell types. Here, we report an inverse correlation in expression of nuclear IRF1 and the autophagy regulator ATG7 in human breast cancer cells that directly affects their cell fate. In mice harboring mutant Atg7, nuclear IRF1 was increased in mammary tumors, spleen, and kidney. Mechanistic investigations identified ATG7 and the cell death modulator beclin-1 (BECN1) as negative regulators of IRF1. Silencing ATG7 or BECN1 caused estrogen receptor-α to exit the nucleus at the time when IRF1 nuclear localization occurred. Conversely, silencing IRF1 promoted autophagy by increasing BECN1 and blunting IGF1 receptor and mTOR survival signaling. Loss of IRF1 promoted resistance to antiestrogens, whereas combined silencing of ATG7 and IRF1 restored sensitivity to these agents. Using a mathematical model to prompt signaling hypotheses, we developed evidence that ATG7 silencing could resensitize IRF1-attenuated cells to apoptosis through mechanisms that involve other estrogen-regulated genes. Overall, our work shows how inhibiting the autophagy proteins ATG7 and BECN1 can regulate IRF1-dependent and -independent signaling pathways in ways that engender a new therapeutic strategy to attack breast cancer.

Radogna F, Dicato M, Diederich M
Cancer-type-specific crosstalk between autophagy, necroptosis and apoptosis as a pharmacological target.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2015; 94(1):1-11 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cell death plays an essential role in the development of organs, homeostasis, and cancer. Apoptosis and programmed necrosis are two major types of cell death, characterized by different cell morphology and pathways. Accumulating evidence shows autophagy as a new alternative target to treat tumor resistance. Besides its well-known pro-survival role, autophagy can be a physiological cell death process linking apoptosis and programmed necrosis cell death pathways, by various molecular mediators. Here, we summarize the effects of pharmacologically active compounds as modulators of different types of cancer cell death depending on the cellular context. Indeed, current findings show that both natural and synthetic compounds regulate the interplay between apoptosis, autophagy and necroptosis stimulating common molecular mediators and sharing common organelles. In response to specific stimuli, the same death signal can cause cells to switch from one cell death modality to another depending on the cellular setting. The discovery of important interconnections between the different cell death mediators and signaling pathways, regulated by pharmacologically active compounds, presents novel opportunities for the targeted treatment of cancer. The aim of this review is to highlight the potential role of these compounds for context-specific anticancer therapy.

Zhao Z, Han F, Yang S, et al.
Oxamate-mediated inhibition of lactate dehydrogenase induces protective autophagy in gastric cancer cells: involvement of the Akt-mTOR signaling pathway.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 358(1):17-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer cells produce a substantial amount of energy through aerobic glycolysis even in the presence of adequate oxygen. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), a key regulator of glycolysis, reversibly catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to lactate. Recently, oxamate, an inhibitor of LDH, has been shown to be a promising anticancer agent. However, the detailed mechanism remains largely unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that oxamate inhibits the viability of human gastric cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In addition, treatment with oxamate induces protective autophagy in gastric cancer cells. Moreover, autophagy inhibited by chloroquine or Beclin 1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) enhances oxamate-induced apoptosis and proliferation inhibition. Further study has shown that oxamate treatment significantly augments reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Furthermore, cells pretreated with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a ROS inhibitor, display significantly reduced ROS production and attenuated oxamate-induced autophagy. Finally, functional studies reveal that the Akt-mTOR signaling pathway, a major negative regulator of autophagy, is inhibited by oxamate. Together, our results provide new insights regarding the biological and anti-proliferative activities of oxamate against gastric cancer, and may offer a promising therapeutic strategy for gastric cancer.

Giatromanolaki A, Sivridis E, Mitrakas A, et al.
Autophagy and lysosomal related protein expression patterns in human glioblastoma.
Cancer Biol Ther. 2014; 15(11):1468-78 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glioblastoma cells are resistant to apoptotic stimuli with autophagic death prevailing under cytotoxic stress. Autophagy interfering agents may represent a new strategy to test in combination with chemo-radiation. We investigated the patterns of expression of autophagy related proteins (LC3A, LC3B, p62, Beclin 1, ULK1 and ULK2) in a series of patients treated with post-operative radiotherapy. Experiments with glioblastoma cell lines (T98 and U87) were also performed to assess autophagic response under conditions simulating the adverse intratumoral environment. Glioblastomas showed cytoplasmic overexpression of autophagic proteins in a varying extent, so that cases could be grouped into low and high expression groups. 10/23, 5/23, 13/23, 5/23, 8/23 and 9/23 cases examined showed extensive expression of LC3A, LC3B, Beclin 1, Ulk 1, Ulk 2 and p62, respectively. Lysosomal markers Cathepsin D and LAMP2a, as well as the lyososomal biogenesis transcription factor TFEB were frequently overexpressed in glioblastomas (10/23, 11/23, and 10/23 cases, respectively). TFEB was directly linked with PTEN, Cathepsin D, HIF1α, LC3B, Beclin 1 and p62 expression. PTEN was also significantly related with LC3B but not LC3A expression, in both immunohistochemistry and gene expression analysis. Confocal microscopy in T98 and U87 cell lines showed distinct identity of LC3A and LC3B autophagosomes. The previously reported stone-like structure (SLS) pattern of LC3 expression was related with prognosis. SLS were inducible in glioblastoma cell lines under exposure to acidic conditions and 2DG mediated glucose antagonism. The present study provides the basis for autophagic characterization of human glioblastoma for further translational studies and targeted therapy trials.

Sasaki M, Nitta T, Sato Y, Nakanuma Y
Autophagy may occur at an early stage of cholangiocarcinogenesis via biliary intraepithelial neoplasia.
Hum Pathol. 2015; 46(2):202-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Similar to the pancreatic carcinoma sequence model, cholangiocarcinoma reportedly follows a stepwise carcinogenesis process via the precursor lesion biliary intraepithelial neoplasia (BilIN). Given that autophagy plays an important role in the occurrence and development of carcinomas, we examined the involvement of autophagy in multistep cholangiocarcinogenesis. Thirty-six patients with hepatolithiasis associated with BilIN and/or cholangiocarcinoma, 7 with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, 8 with intraductal papillary neoplasm of the bile duct (IPNB), and 6 with control livers were surveyed. Their lesions were categorized as follows: invasive carcinoma (n = 16), IPNB (n = 8), BIlN-3 (n = 16), BilIN-1/2 (n = 40), nonneoplastic large bile duct (n = 55), and peribiliary gland (n = 55). We examined the immunohistochemical expression of autophagy-related proteins, microtubule-associated proteins light chain 3β (LC3), beclin-1, and p62/sequestosome-1 (p62), as well as tumor suppressor gene product p53. The extent of expression was semiquantitatively assessed. The status of KRAS mutations at codons 12 and 13 was examined in selected cases of BilIN-1/2. The expression of LC3 (cytoplasmic), beclin-1 (cytoplasmic), and p62 (cytoplasmic and nuclear) was significantly higher in BilIN-1/2, BilIN-3, IPNB, and invasive carcinoma than in large bile duct and peribiliary gland (P < .01). KRAS mutation was detected in 6 (40%) of 15 BilIN-1/2 lesions, and there was no correlation between the status of KRAS mutation and the expression of autophagy-related proteins. In conclusion, this study is the first to disclose that the expression of autophagy-related proteins, LC3, beclin-1, and p62, was increased at an early stage of multistep cholangiocarcinogenesis in hepatolithiasis. Autophagy, probably deregulated autophagy, may be related to the occurrence and development of cholangiocarcinoma.

Golden EB, Cho HY, Jahanian A, et al.
Chloroquine enhances temozolomide cytotoxicity in malignant gliomas by blocking autophagy.
Neurosurg Focus. 2014; 37(6):E12 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECT: In a recent clinical trial, patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme benefited from chloroquine (CQ) in combination with conventional therapy (resection, temozolomide [TMZ], and radiation therapy). In the present study, the authors report the mechanism by which CQ enhances the therapeutic efficacy of TMZ to aid future studies aimed at improving this therapeutic regimen.
METHODS: Using in vitro and in vivo experiments, the authors determined the mechanism by which CQ enhances TMZ cytotoxicity. They focused on the inhibition-of-autophagy mechanism of CQ by knockdown of the autophagy-associated proteins or treatment with autophagy inhibitors. This mechanism was tested using an in vivo model with subcutaneously implanted U87MG tumors from mice treated with CQ in combination with TMZ.
RESULTS: Knockdown of the autophagy-associated proteins (GRP78 and Beclin) or treatment with the autophagy inhibitor, 3-methyl adenine (3-MA), blocked autophagosome formation and reduced CQ cytotoxicity, suggesting that autophagosome accumulation precedes CQ-induced cell death. In contrast, blocking autophagosome formation with knockdown of GRP78 or treatment with 3-MA enhanced TMZ cytotoxicity, suggesting that the autophagy pathway protects from TMZ-induced cytotoxicity. CQ in combination with TMZ significantly increased the amounts of LC3B-II (a marker for autophagosome levels), CHOP/GADD-153, and cleaved PARP (a marker for apoptosis) over those with untreated or individual drug-treated glioma cells. These molecular mechanisms seemed to take place in vivo as well. Subcutaneously implanted U87MG tumors from mice treated with CQ in combination with TMZ displayed higher levels of CHOP/GADD-153 than did untreated or individual drug-treated tumors.
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these results demonstrate that CQ blocks autophagy and triggers endoplasmic reticulum stress, thereby increasing the chemosensitivity of glioma cells to TMZ.

Wu W, Li W, Zhou Y, Zhang C
Inhibition of beclin1 affects the chemotherapeutic sensitivity of osteosarcoma.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(10):7114-22 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2016 Related Publications
This study was conducted to explore the role of autophagy in cisplatin-resistant osteosarcoma. Cisplatin-resistant osteosarcoma cell line (MG63/DDP) was obtained from parental MG63 by treating cisplatin with an intermittent stepwise selection protocol. The autophagy in MG63/DDP and MG63 was fully analyzed by immunofluorescence and western blot analysis. Meanwhile, the autophagy and the sensitivity to cisplatin for MG63/DDP and MG63 after inhibition of beclin1 were analyzed in vitro and in vivo. Increased autophagy was observed in cisplatin resistant MG63/DDP cells and in the cisplatin-treated MG63 and MG63/DDP cells. Meanwhile, inhibition the beclin1 significantly inhibited the formation of autophagosome and resulted in the increase in the sensitivity to cisplatin for both MG63 and MG63/DDP cells in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, autophagy is implicated in the cisplatin resistant osteosarcoma, and inhibition of beclin1 could be a target for improving osteosarcoma therapy.

Hasima N, Ozpolat B
Regulation of autophagy by polyphenolic compounds as a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1509 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2016 Related Publications
Autophagy, a lysosomal degradation pathway for cellular constituents and organelles, is an adaptive and essential process required for cellular homeostasis. Although autophagy functions as a survival mechanism in response to cellular stressors such as nutrient or growth factor deprivation, it can also lead to a non-apoptotic form of programmed cell death (PCD) called autophagy-induced cell death or autophagy-associated cell death (type II PCD). Current evidence suggests that cell death through autophagy can be induced as an alternative to apoptosis (type I PCD), with therapeutic purpose in cancer cells that are resistant to apoptosis. Thus, modulating autophagy is of great interest in cancer research and therapy. Natural polyphenolic compounds that are present in our diet, such as rottlerin, genistein, quercetin, curcumin, and resveratrol, can trigger type II PCD via various mechanisms through the canonical (Beclin-1 dependent) and non-canonical (Beclin-1 independent) routes of autophagy. The capacity of these compounds to provide a means of cancer cell death that enhances the effects of standard therapies should be taken into consideration for designing novel therapeutic strategies. This review focuses on the autophagy- and cell death-inducing effects of these polyphenolic compounds in cancer.

Song X, Kim SY, Zhang L, et al.
Role of AMP-activated protein kinase in cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy in human colon cancer.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1504 [PubMed] Related Publications
Unresectable colorectal liver metastases remain a major unresolved issue and more effective novel regimens are urgently needed. While screening synergistic drug combinations for colon cancer therapy, we identified a novel multidrug treatment for colon cancer: chemotherapeutic agent melphalan in combination with proteasome inhibitor bortezomib and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibitor rapamycin. We investigated the mechanisms of synergistic antitumor efficacy during the multidrug treatment. All experiments were performed with highly metastatic human colon cancer CX-1 and HCT116 cells, and selected critical experiments were repeated with human colon cancer stem Tu-22 cells and mouse embryo fibroblast (MEF) cells. We used immunochemical techniques to investigate a cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy during the multidrug treatment. We observed that melphalan triggered apoptosis, bortezomib induced apoptosis and autophagy, rapamycin caused autophagy and the combinatorial treatment-induced synergistic apoptosis, which was mediated through an increase in caspase activation. We also observed that mitochondrial dysfunction induced by the combination was linked with altered cellular metabolism, which induced adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation, resulting in Beclin-1 phosphorylated at Ser 93/96. Interestingly, Beclin-1 phosphorylated at Ser 93/96 is sufficient to induce Beclin-1 cleavage by caspase-8, which switches off autophagy to achieve the synergistic induction of apoptosis. Similar results were observed with the essential autophagy gene, autophagy-related protein 7, -deficient MEF cells. The multidrug treatment-induced Beclin-1 cleavage was abolished in Beclin-1 double-mutant (D133A/D146A) knock-in HCT116 cells, restoring the autophagy-promoting function of Beclin-1 and suppressing the apoptosis induced by the combination therapy. These observations identify a novel mechanism for AMPK-induced apoptosis through interplay between autophagy and apoptosis.

Sun R, Luo Y, Li J, et al.
Ammonium chloride inhibits autophagy of hepatocellular carcinoma cells through SMAD2 signaling.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(2):1173-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Autophagy is a cellular degradation process for the clearance of damaged or superfluous proteins and organelles, the recycling of which serves as an alternative energy source during periods of metabolic stress to maintain cell homeostasis and viability. The anti-necrotic function of autophagy is critical for tumorigenesis of many tumor cells, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the underlying mechanism is not clarified yet. Ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) is a well-known autophagy inhibitor, whereas its interaction with SMAD2 signaling pathway has not been reported previously. Here, we show that NH4Cl significantly inhibited rapamycin-induced autophagy in HCC cells through decreasing the levels of Beclin-1, autophagy-related protein 7 (ATG7), p62, and autophagosome marker LC3 and significantly decreased the level of phosphorylated SMAD2 in rapamycin-treated HCC cells. In order to find out whether NH4Cl may inhibit the autophagy in rapamycin-treated HCC cells through inhibition of SMAD2 signaling, we used transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) to induce phosphorylation of SMAD2 in HCC cells. We found that induction of SMAD2 in HCC cells completely abolished the inhibitory effect of NH4Cl on rapamycin-induced autophagy in HCC cells, suggesting that NH4Cl inhibits autophagy of HCC cells through inhibiting SMAD2 signaling.

Jin Z, Zheng L, Xin X, et al.
Upregulation of forkhead box O3 transcription is involved in C2-ceramide induced apoptosis and autophagy in ovarian cancer cells in vitro.
Mol Med Rep. 2014; 10(6):3099-105 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ceramide is a bioactive lipid which functions as a tumor suppressor, mediating processes such as apoptosis, growth arrest, senescence and differentiation. The effects of ceramide in ovarian cancers have not been well established. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of C2‑ceramide treatment in A2780 ovarian cancer cells and its possible molecular mechanism. C2‑ceramide-induced proliferation inhibition was analyzed using an MTT assay and Trypan blue test. Flow cytometry and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling were used to identify the induction of apoptosis. Transmission electron microscopy was used to confirm the formation of autophagosomes. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed to analyze the messenger RNA expression of the autophagy and cell death associated genes and western blotting was used to analyze the protein expression of beclin 1, LC3, Akt, forkhead box O3 (FOXO3) and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase in ovarian cancer cells. It was found that C2‑ceramide inhibited A2780 cell proliferation in a time‑ and dose‑dependent manner and C2‑ceremide induced A2780 cell apoptosis and autophagy. However, C2‑ceramide‑induced autophagy did not result in cell death, but instead protected ovarian cancer cells from apoptosis. Akt inhibition and FOXO3 activation were implicated in C2‑ceramide‑treated ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, FOXO3 target genes, which were associated with autophagy (MAP1LC3, GABARAP and GABARAPL1) and cell death (BNIP3, BNIP3L, BIM and PUMA), were upregulated. The present study has shown that C2‑ceramide induced apoptosis and autophagy in ovarian cancer cells. FOXO3 transcription was upregulated, which may contribute to C2‑ceramide‑induced apoptosis and autophagy.

Zou YM, Hu GY, Zhao XQ, et al.
Hypoxia-induced autophagy contributes to radioresistance via c-Jun-mediated Beclin1 expression in lung cancer cells.
J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2014; 34(5):761-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Reduced radiosensitivity of lung cancer cells represents a pivotal obstacle in clinical oncology. The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α plays a crucial role in radiosensitivity, but the detailed mechanisms remain elusive. A relationship has been suggested to exist between hypoxia and autophagy recently. In the current study, we studied the effect of hypoxia-induced autophagy on radioresistance in lung cancer cell lines. A549 and H1299 cells were cultured under normoxia or hypoxia, followed by irradiation at dosage ranging from 0 to 8 Gy. Clonogenic assay was performed to calculate surviving fraction. EGFP-LC3 plasmid was stably transfected into cells to monitor autophagic processes. Western blotting was used to evaluate the protein expression levels of HIF-1α, c-Jun, phosphorylated c-Jun, Beclin 1, LC3 and p62. The mRNA levels of Beclin 1 were detected by qRT-PCR. We found that under hypoxia, both A549 and H1299 cells were radio-resistant compared with normoxia. Hypoxia-induced elevated HIF-1α protein expression preferentially triggered autophagy, accompanied by LC3 induction, EGFP-LC3 puncta and p62 degradation. In the meantime, HIF-1α increased downstream c-Jun phosphorylation, which in turn upregulated Beclin 1 mRNA and protein expression. The upregulation of Beclin 1 expression, instead of HIF-1α, could be blocked by SP600125 (a specific inhibitor of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase), followed by suppression of autophagy. Under hypoxia, combined treatment of irradiation and chloroquine (a potent autophagy inhibitor) significantly decreased the survival potential of lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, hypoxia-induced autophagy through evaluating Beclin1 expression may be considered as a target to reverse the radioresistance in cancer cells.

Messai Y, Noman MZ, Hasmim M, et al.
ITPR1 protects renal cancer cells against natural killer cells by inducing autophagy.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(23):6820-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell renal cell carcinomas (RCC) frequently display inactivation of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene leading to increased level of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF). In this study, we investigated the potential role of HIF2α in regulating RCC susceptibility to natural killer (NK) cell-mediated killing. We demonstrated that the RCC cell line 786-0 with mutated VHL was resistant to NK-mediated lysis as compared with the VHL-corrected cell line (WT7). This resistance was found to require HIF2α stabilization. On the basis of global gene expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, we found ITPR1 (inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor, type 1) as a direct novel target of HIF2α and that targeting ITPR1 significantly increased susceptibility of 786-0 cells to NK-mediated lysis. Mechanistically, HIF2α in 786-0 cells lead to overexpression of ITPR1, which subsequently regulated the NK-mediated killing through the activation of autophagy in target cells by NK-derived signal. Interestingly, both ITPR1 and Beclin-1 silencing in 786-0 cells inhibited NK-induced autophagy and subsequently increased granzyme B activity in target cells. Finally, in vivo ITPR1 targeting significantly enhanced the NK-mediated tumor regression. Our data provide insight into the link between HIF2α, the ITPR1-related pathway, and natural immunity and strongly suggest a role for the HIF2α/ITPR1 axis in regulating RCC cell survival.

Wang Y, Wu J, Lin B, et al.
Galangin suppresses HepG2 cell proliferation by activating the TGF-β receptor/Smad pathway.
Toxicology. 2014; 326:9-17 [PubMed] Related Publications
Galangin can suppress hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell proliferation. In this study, we demonstrated that galangin induced autophagy by activating the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β receptor/Smad pathway and increased TGF-β receptor I (RI), TGF-βRII, Smad1, Smad2, Smad3 and Smad4 levels but decreased Smad6 and Smad7 levels. Autophagy induced by galangin appears to depend on the TGF-β receptor/Smad signalling pathway because the down-regulation of Smad4 by siRNA or inhibition of TGF-β receptor activation by LY2109761 blocked galangin-induced autophagy. The down-regulation of Beclin1, autophagy-related gene (ATG) 16L, ATG12 and ATG3 restored HepG2 cell proliferation and prevented galangin-induced apoptosis. Our findings indicate a novel mechanism for galangin-induced autophagy via activation of the TGF-β receptor/Smad pathway. The induction of autophagy thus reflects the anti-proliferation effect of galangin on HCC cells.

Wu DH, Jia CC, Chen J, et al.
Autophagic LC3B overexpression correlates with malignant progression and predicts a poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(12):12225-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
Autophagy is a process that involves lysosomal degradations of cellular organelles and closely related to tumor occurrence and progression. However, its importance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was still controversial. Therefore, this study is aimed to address the clinicopathologic effect of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3B (LC3B) and Beclin-1, as autophagic markers, in HCC patients. Tissue microarray-based immunohistochemistry was used to examine the expression of LC3B and another autophagy key regulator (Beclin-1) in 156 operable HCC patients. Kaplan-Meier analysis, chi-square test, and Spearman's correlation analysis were used to analyze correlation of LC3B and Beclin-1 and their influence on clinical characteristics and prognosis. We found that the expression level of LC3B was significantly associated with vascular invasion (P = 0.008), lymph node metastasis (P < 0.001), and Beclin-1 expression level (P < 0.001). However, LC3B was not related to other clinicopathological features, including hepatitis B virus infection, liver cirrhosis, tumor number, tumor size, pathology grade, and tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) stage. Besides, correlation between the expression of Beclin-1 and clinicopathological features were not identified. Survival analysis showed that patients with high LC3B expression had a poorer 5-year overall survival (OS) rate than those with low LC3B expression (high vs. low: 79.5 % vs. 20.5 %, P = 0.026). And high LC3B expression tended to be related with shorter progression-free survival (PFS) (P = 0.074), whereas the expression level of Beclin-1 did not show statistically significant association with OS or PFS. Further multivariate analysis revealed that lymph node metastasis (P = 0.047) and LC3B expression level (P = 0.047) were independent factors to predict the prognosis of OS in all patients. Our study demonstrated that high expression of LC3B, correlated with vascular invasion and lymph node metastasis, might be a novel prognostic biomarker and would be a potential therapy target for HCC, especially in operable patients.

Huang YH, Al-Aidaroos AQ, Yuen HF, et al.
A role of autophagy in PTP4A3-driven cancer progression.
Autophagy. 2014; 10(10):1787-800 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
Autophagy, a "self-eating" cellular process, has dual roles in promoting and suppressing tumor growth, depending on cellular context. PTP4A3/PRL-3, a plasma membrane and endosomal phosphatase, promotes multiple oncogenic processes including cell proliferation, invasion, and cancer metastasis. In this study, we demonstrate that PTP4A3 accumulates in autophagosomes upon inhibition of autophagic degradation. Expression of PTP4A3 enhances PIK3C3-BECN1-dependent autophagosome formation and accelerates LC3-I to LC3-II conversion in an ATG5-dependent manner. PTP4A3 overexpression also enhances the degradation of SQSTM1, a key autophagy substrate. These functions of PTP4A3 are dependent on its catalytic activity and prenylation-dependent membrane association. These results suggest that PTP4A3 functions to promote canonical autophagy flux. Unexpectedly, following autophagy activation, PTP4A3 serves as a novel autophagic substrate, thereby establishing a negative feedback-loop that may be required to fine-tune autophagy activity. Functionally, PTP4A3 utilizes the autophagy pathway to promote cell growth, concomitant with the activation of AKT. Clinically, from the largest ovarian cancer data set (GSE 9899, n = 285) available in GEO, high levels of expression of both PTP4A3 and autophagy genes significantly predict poor prognosis of ovarian cancer patients. These studies reveal a critical role of autophagy in PTP4A3-driven cancer progression, suggesting that autophagy could be a potential Achilles heel to block PTP4A3-mediated tumor progression in stratified patients with high expression of both PTP4A3 and autophagy genes.

Valente G, Morani F, Nicotra G, et al.
Expression and clinical significance of the autophagy proteins BECLIN 1 and LC3 in ovarian cancer.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:462658 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
Autophagy is dysregulated in cancer and might be involved in ovarian carcinogenesis. BECLIN-1, a protein that interacts with either BCL-2 or PI3k class III, plays a critical role in the regulation of both autophagy and cell death. Induction of autophagy is associated with the presence of vacuoles characteristically labelled with the protein LC3. We have studied the biological and clinical significance of BECLIN 1 and LC3 in ovary tumours of different histological types. The positive expression of BECLIN 1 was well correlated with the presence of LC3-positive autophagic vacuoles and was inversely correlated with the expression of BCL-2. The latter inhibits the autophagy function of BECLIN 1. We found that type I tumours, which are less aggressive than type II, were more frequently expressing high level of BECLIN 1. Of note, tumours of histologic grade III expressed low level of BECLIN 1. Consistently, high level of expression of BECLIN 1 and LC3 in tumours is well correlated with the overall survival of the patients. The present data are compatible with the hypotheses that a low level of autophagy favours cancer progression and that ovary cancer with upregulated autophagy has a less aggressive behaviour and is more responsive to chemotherapy.

Han R, Liang H, Qin ZH, Liu CY
Crotoxin induces apoptosis and autophagy in human lung carcinoma cells in vitro via activation of the p38MAPK signaling pathway.
Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2014; 35(10):1323-32 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
AIM: Crotoxin (CrTX) is the primary toxin in South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) venom, and exhibits antitumor and other pharmacological actions in vivo and in vitro. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of the antitumor action of CrTX in human lung carcinoma cells in vitro.
METHODS: Human lung squamous carcinoma SK-MES-1 cells were tested. The cytotoxicity of CrTX was evaluated in both MTT and colony formation assays. Cell cycle was investigated with flow cytometry. Cell apoptosis was studied with Hoechst 33258 and Annexin V-FITC staining. The levels of relevant proteins were analyzed using Western blot assays.
RESULTS: CrTX (25, 50, 100 μmol/L) inhibited the growth and colony formation of SK-MES-1 cells in dose- and time-dependent manners. CrTX increased the proportion of S phase cells and dose-dependently induced cell apoptosis, accompanied by down-regulating the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and increasing the level of cleaved caspase-3. Furthermore, CrTX dose-dependently increased the expression of autophagy-related proteins LC3-II and beclin 1, and decreased the level of p62 in the cells. Moreover, CrTX (50 μmol/L) significantly increased p38MAPK phosphorylation in the cells. Pretreatment of the cells with SB203580, a specific inhibitor of p38MAPK, blocked the inhibition of CrTX on cell proliferation, as well as CrTX-induced apoptosis and cleaved caspase-3 expression.
CONCLUSION: The p38MAPK signaling pathway mediates CrTX-induced apoptosis and autophagy of human lung carcinoma SK-MES-1 cells in vitro.

Li CL, Wei HL, Chen J, et al.
Arsenic trioxide induces autophagy and antitumor effects in Burkitt's lymphoma Raji cells.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 32(4):1557-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although it is generally acknowledged that auto-phagy plays an important role in tumorigenesis and therapy, studies of autophagy in different cell types and under different conditions have led to conflicting theories regarding the influence of autophagy on cell death. In the present study, we explored the role of autophagy and its underlying mechanism in the inhibitory effects of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) on Burkitt's lymphoma Raji cells. The results showed that As2O3 significantly inhibited the proliferation of Raji cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, induced G2/M phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Moreover, As2O3 also promoted the formation of autophagic vacuoles, as well as increased the degradation of autophagy substrate P62 protein, which was accompanied by an upregulation of Beclin-1 gene and a downregulation of Bcl-2 gene expression. 3-Methyladenine, an autophagy inhibitor, not only increased cell viability through inhibiting autophagic cell death and apoptosis, but also reversed the upregulation of Beclin-1 gene and the downregulation of Bcl-2 gene in the Raji cells induced by As2O3. These results may lead to a better understanding of the action of As2O3 and may provide evidence that autophagy plays an important role in the regulation of cell death. Therefore, regulation of autophagic activity may be a promising therapy for patients with Burkitt's lymphoma.

Weng J, Wang C, Wang Y, et al.
Beclin1 inhibits proliferation, migration and invasion in tongue squamous cell carcinoma cell lines.
Oral Oncol. 2014; 50(10):983-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The role of autophagy is still a controversy in cancer development. In our previous study, we confirmed that decrease of autophagy activity promotes malignant progression of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC). However, the role of autophagy-related protein, Beclin1, has not well been documented in TSCC. In this study, we aim to elucidate the role of beclin1 in TSCC progression and investigate its potential mechanisms.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: TSCC cell lines, SCC9 and SCC15 were used to generate the stable cells with transfection lentivirus BECN1 and sh-BECN1. Then, Beclin1 expression was detected with qPCR and western blot. Moreover, the expressions of autophagy-related proteins and tumor metastasis associated proteins were examined by western blot and ELISA. For functional analysis, MTT assay were performed to evaluate the proliferation activity and transwell assay was used to assess the migration and invasion ability. Finally, TSCC xenograft models were established to confirm the effect of Beclin1 on TSCC in vivo.
RESULTS: The results showed that BECN1 and sh-BECN1 virus transfection significantly increased or decreased the mRNA and protein expression of Beclin1 in the transfected TSCC cells. Meanwhile, we also observed that Beclin1 could enhance the expression levels of LC3-II, ATG4 and ATG5. Then, we revealed that overexpression of Beclin1 inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion while knockdown of Beclin1 promoted proliferation, migration and invasion in TSCC cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9 were involved in Beclin1-mediated inhibition of migration and invasion. More importantly, our data also confirmed that Beclin1 inhibited TSCC xenograft growth in vivo.
CONCLUSION: Taken together, the results indicate that autophagy regulating gene, Beclin1, may contribute to the malignant phenotypes of TSCC cells and can be a potential target for oral cancer gene therapy.

Saha P, Ghosh I, Datta K
Increased hyaluronan levels in HABP1/p32/gC1qR overexpressing HepG2 cells inhibit autophagic vacuolation regulating tumor potency.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(7):e103208 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
Tumor growth and development is influenced by its microenvironment. A major extracellular matrix molecule involved in cancer progression is hyaluronan (HA). Hyaluronan and expression of a number of hyaladherin family proteins are dramatically increased in many cancer malignancies. One such hyaladherin, hyaluronan-binding protein 1 (HABP1/p32/gC1qR) has been considered to be a biomarker for tumor progression. Interestingly, overexpression of HABP1 in fibroblast has been shown to increase autophagy via generation of excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) and depletion of HA leading to apoptosis. Cancerous cells are often found to exhibit decreased rate of proteolysis/autophagy in comparison to their normal counterparts. To determine if HABP1 levels alter tumorigenicity of cancerous cells, HepR21, the stable transfectant overexpressing HABP1 in HepG2 cell line was derived. HepR21 has been shown to have increased proliferation rate than HepG2, intracellular HA cable formation and enhanced tumor potency without any significant alteration of intracellular ROS. In this paper we have observed that HepR21 cells containing higher endogenous HA levels, have downregulated expression of the autophagic marker, MAP-LC3, consistent with unaltered levels of endogenous ROS. In fact, HepR21 cells seem to have significant resistance to exogenous ROS stimuli and glutathione depletion. HepR21 cells were also found to be more resilient to nutrient starvation in comparison to its parent cell line. Decline in intracellular HA levels and HA cables in HepR21 cells upon treatment with HAS inhibitor (4-MU), induced a surge in ROS levels leading to increased expression of MAP-LC3 and tumor suppressors Beclin 1 and PTEN. This suggests the importance of HABP1 induced HA cable formation in enhancing tumor potency by maintaining the oxidant levels and subsequent autophagic vacuolation.

Liu K, Shi Y, Guo X, et al.
CHOP mediates ASPP2-induced autophagic apoptosis in hepatoma cells by releasing Beclin-1 from Bcl-2 and inducing nuclear translocation of Bcl-2.
Cell Death Dis. 2014; 5:e1323 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/10/2015 Related Publications
Apoptosis-stimulating protein of p53-2 (ASPP2) induces apoptosis by promoting the expression of pro-apoptotic genes via binding to p53 or p73; however, the exact mechanisms by which ASPP2 induces apoptotic death in hepatoma cells are still unclear. Here, we show that the transient overexpression of ASPP2 induces autophagic apoptosis in hepatoma cells by promoting p53- or p73-independent C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) expression. CHOP expression decreases the expression of Bcl-2; this change releases Beclin-1 from cytoplasmic Bcl-2-Beclin-1 complexes and allows it to initiate autophagy. However, transient overexpression of Beclin-1 can induce autophagy but not apoptosis. Our results show that ASPP2 induces the expression of damage-regulated autophagy modulator (DRAM), another critical factor that cooperates with free Beclin-1 to induce autophagic apoptosis. The effect of CHOP on the translocation and sequestration of Bcl-2 in the nucleus, which requires the binding of Bcl-2 to ASPP2, is also critical for ASPP2-induced autophagic apoptosis. Although the role of nuclear ASPP2-Bcl-2 complexes is still unclear, our results suggest that nuclear ASPP2 can prevent the translocation of the remaining Bcl-2 to the cytoplasm by binding to Bcl-2 in a CHOP-dependent manner, and this effect also contributes to Beclin-1-initiated autophagy. Thus, CHOP is critical for mediating ASPP2-induced autophagic apoptosis by decreasing Bcl-2 expression and maintaining nuclear ASPP2-Bcl-2 complexes. Our results, which define a mechanism whereby ASPP2 overexpression induces autophagic apoptosis, open a new avenue for promoting autophagy in treatments to cure hepatocellular carcinoma.

Liu XD, Yao J, Tripathi DN, et al.
Autophagy mediates HIF2α degradation and suppresses renal tumorigenesis.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(19):2450-60 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 07/11/2015 Related Publications
Autophagy is a conserved process involved in lysosomal degradation of protein aggregates and damaged organelles. The role of autophagy in cancer is a topic of intense debate, and the underlying mechanism is still not clear. The hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF2α), an oncogenic transcription factor implicated in renal tumorigenesis, is known to be degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). Here, we report that HIF2α is in part constitutively degraded by autophagy. HIF2α interacts with autophagy-lysosome system components. Inhibition of autophagy increases HIF2α, whereas induction of autophagy decreases HIF2α. The E3 ligase von Hippel-Lindau and autophagy receptor protein p62 are required for autophagic degradation of HIF2α. There is a compensatory interaction between the UPS and autophagy in HIF2α degradation. Autophagy inactivation redirects HIF2α to proteasomal degradation, whereas proteasome inhibition induces autophagy and increases the HIF2α-p62 interaction. Importantly, clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is frequently associated with monoallelic loss and/or mutation of autophagy-related gene ATG7, and the low expression level of autophagy genes correlates with ccRCC progression. The protein levels of ATG7 and beclin 1 are also reduced in ccRCC tumors. This study indicates that autophagy has an anticancer role in ccRCC tumorigenesis, and suggests that constitutive autophagic degradation of HIF2α is a novel tumor suppression mechanism.

Pan B, Chen D, Huang J, et al.
HMGB1-mediated autophagy promotes docetaxel resistance in human lung adenocarcinoma.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:165 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 07/11/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Docetaxel resistance remains a major obstacle in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) has been shown to promote autophagy protection in response to antitumor therapy, but the exact molecular mechanism underlying HMGB1-mediated autophagy has not been clearly defined.
METHODS: Lung adenocarcinoma (LAD) cells were transfected with pcDNA3.1-HMGB1 or HMGB1 shRNA, followed by docetaxel treatment. Cell viability and proliferation were tested by MTT assay and colony formation assay, respectively. Annexin V flow cytometric analysis and western blot analysis of activated caspase3 and cleaved PARP were used to evaluate apoptosis, while immunofluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy were applied to assess autophagy activity. The formation of the Beclin-1-PI3K-III complex was examined by immunoprecipitation analysis. NOD/SCID mice were inoculated with docetaxel-resistant SPC-A1/DTX cells transfected with control or HMGB1 shRNA.
RESULTS: HMGB1 translocated from the nucleus to the cytoplasm in LAD cells exposed to docetaxel and acted as a positive regulator of autophagy, which inhibited apoptosis and increased drug resistance. Suppression of HMGB1 restored the sensitivity of LAD cells to docetaxel both in vivo and in vitro. Mechanistic investigation revealed that HMGB1 promoted the formation of the Beclin-1-PI3K-III complex through activating the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, thereby regulating autophagosome formation.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrated that HMGB1-regulated autophagy is a significant contributor to docetaxel resistance in LAD cells. Suppression of HMGB1 or limiting HMGB1 cytosolic translocation diminished autophagic protection in response to docetaxel in LAD cells.

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