Tumor cells that acquire metastatic potential have developed resistance to anoikis, a cell death process, after detachment from their primary site to the second organ. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of a novel marine bacterial polysaccharide EPS11 which exerts its cytotoxic effects through affecting cancer cell adhesion and anoikis. Firstly, we found that EPS11 could significantly affect cell proliferation and block cell adhesion in A549 cells. We further demonstrated that the expression of several cell adhesion associated proteins is downregulated and the filiform structures of cancer cells are destroyed after EPS11 treatment. Interestingly, the destruction of filiform structures in A549 cells by EPS11 is in a dose-dependent manner, and the inhibitory tendency is very consistent with that observed in the cell adhesion assay, which confirms that filiform structures play important roles in modulating cell adhesion. Moreover, we showed that EPS11 induces apoptosis of A549 cells through stimulating βIII-tubulin associated anoikis: (i) EPS11 inhibits the expression of βIII-tubulin in both transcription and translation levels; and (ii) EPS11 treatment dramatically decreases the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (PKB or AKT), a critical downstream effector of βIII-tubulin. Importantly, EPS11 evidently inhibits the growth of A549-derived tumor xenografts in vivo. Thus, our results suggest that EPS11 may be a potential candidate for human non-small cell lung carcinoma treatment via blocking filiform structure mediated adhesion and stimulating βIII-tubulin associated anoikis.
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