Among malignancies, lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death. Despite the advance in lung cancer therapy, the five-year survival rate is extremely restricted due to therapeutic failure and disease relapse. Targeted therapies selectively inhibiting certain molecules in cancer cells have been accepted as promising ways to control cancer. In lung cancer, evidence has suggested that the myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1) protein, an anti-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is a target for drug action. Herein, we report the Mcl-1 targeting activity of renieramycin T (RT), a marine-derived tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid that was isolated from the Thai blue sponge Xestospongia
sp. RT was shown to be dominantly toxic to lung cancer cells compared to the normal cells in the lung. The cytotoxicity of this compound toward lung cancer cells was mainly exerted through apoptosis induction. For the mechanism of action, we found that RT mediated activation of p53 protein and caspase-9 and -3 activations. While others Bcl-2 family proteins (Bcl-2, Bak, and Bax) were minimally changed in response to RT, Mcl-1 protein was dramatically diminished. We further performed the cycloheximide experiment and found that the half-life of Mcl-1 was significantly shortened by RT treatment. When MG132, a potent selective proteasome inhibitor, was utilized, it could restore the Mcl-1 level. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that RT significantly increased the formation of Mcl-1-ubiquitin complex compared to the non-treated control. In conclusion, we report the potential apoptosis induction of RT with a mechanism of action involving the targeting of Mcl-1 for ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation. As Mcl-1 is critical for cancer cell survival and chemotherapeutic failure, this novel information regarding the Mcl-1-targeted compound would be beneficial for the development of efficient anti-cancer strategies or targeted therapies.
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