Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced by all aerobic cells and have been implicated in the regulation of diverse cellular functions, including intracellular signaling, transcription activation, proliferation, and apoptosis. Salvicine, a novel diterpenoid quinone compound, demonstrates a broad spectrum of antitumor activities. Although salvicine is known to trap the DNA-topoisomerase II (Topo II) complex and induce DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), its precise antitumor mechanisms remain to be clarified. In this study, we investigated whether salvicine altered the levels of ROS in breast cancer MCF-7 cells and whether these ROS contributed to the observed antitumoral activity. Our data revealed that salvicine stimulated intracellular ROS production and subsequently elicited notable DSBs. The addition of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, effectively attenuated the salvicine-induced ROS enhancement and subsequent DNA DSBs. Heat treatment reversed the accumulation of DNA DSBs, and the addition of NAC attenuated the Topo II-DNA cleavable complexes formation and the growth inhibition of salvicine-treated JN394top2-4 yeast cells, collectively indicating that Topo II is a target of the salvicineinduced ROS. On the other hand, when examining the impact of salvicine on DNA repair pathways, we unexpectedly observed that salvicine selectively down-regulated the catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK CS ) protein levels and repressed DNA-PK kinase activity; both of these effects were attenuated by NAC pretreatment of MCF-7 cells. Finally and most importantly, NAC attenuated salvicine-induced apoptosis and cytotoxicity in MCF-7 cells. These results indicate that apart from its direct actions, salvicine generates ROS that modulate DNA damage and repair, contributing to the comprehensive biological consequences of salvicine treatment, such as DNA DSBs, apoptosis, and cytotoxicity in tumor cells. The finding of salvicine-induced ROS provides new evidence for the molecular mechanisms of this compound. Moreover, the effects of salvicine-induced ROS on Topo II and DNA-PK give new insights into the diverse biological activities of ROS.
Salvicine, a diterpenoid quinone compound, possesses potent in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity. Salvicine is a novel non-intercalative topoisomerase II poison. In this study salvicine induced evident DNA damage, which was further characterized as double-strand breaks mainly in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. The degree of damage was highly correlated with growth inhibition of MCF-7. Using a PCR-stop assay we demonstrated that this damage was selective. Preferential damage occurred in the p2 promoter region, but not the 3'-end of the protooncogene c-myc. The expression of oncogenes, such as c-myc and c-jun, was additionally investigated. Salvicine induced a dose-dependent decrease in c-myc gene transcription, concomitant with an increase in c-jun expression. Furthermore, reverse-transcription PCR and Western blotting data revealed that salvicine failed to stimulate the mRNA and protein levels of p53 and its downstream targets p21 and bax. The phosphorylation degree of serine 15 of p53, which is thought to be an active form of p53 in response to cellular DNA damage, remained in a steady state. In view of these results, we propose that the downregulation of c-myc resulting from selective damage plays a role in apoptosis signaling. Moreover, salvicine-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 subsequent to DNA damage seems to be mediated through a p53-independent pathway.
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