We investigated the antitumor mechanism of Anthopleura anjunae
oligopeptide (AAP-H, YVPGP) in prostate cancer DU-145 cells in vitro and in vivo. Results indicated that AAP-H was nontoxic and exhibited antitumor activities. Cell cycle analysis indicated that AAP-H may arrest DU-145 cells in the S phase. The role of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian rapamycin target protein (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) signaling pathway in the antitumor mechanism of APP-H was investigated. Results showed that AAP-H treatment led to dose-dependent reduction in the levels of p-AKT (Ser473), p-PI3K (p85), and p-mTOR (Ser2448), whereas t-AKT and t-PI3K levels remained unaltered compared to the untreated DU-145 cells. Inhibition of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in the DU-145 cells by employing inhibitor LY294002 (10 μM) or rapamycin (20 nM) effectively attenuated AAP-H-induced phosphorylation of AKT and mTOR. At the same time, inhibitor addition further elevated AAP-H-induced cleaved-caspase-3 levels. Furthermore, the effect of AAP-H on tumor growth and the role of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in nude mouse model were also investigated. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that activated AKT, PI3K, and mTOR levels were reduced in DU-145 xenografts. Western blotting showed that AAP-H treatment resulted in dose-dependent reduction in p-AKT (Ser473), p-PI3K (p85), and p-mTOR (Ser2448) levels, whereas t-AKT and t-PI3K levels remained unaltered. Similarly, Bcl-xL levels decreased, whereas that of Bax increased after AAP-H treatment. AAP-H also increased initiator (caspase 8 and 9) and executor caspase (caspase 3 and 7) levels. Therefore, the antitumor mechanism of APP-H on DU-145 cells may involve regulation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, which eventually promotes apoptosis via mitochondrial and death receptor pathways. Thus, the hydrophobic oligopeptide (YVPGP) can be developed as an adjuvant for the prevention or treatment of prostate cancer in the future.
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