Gastric cancer (GC) is the fifth most frequently diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death. Approximately 15% of GC is associated with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV). GC is largely incurable with a dismal five-year survival rate. There is an urgent need to identify new therapeutic agents for the treatment of GC. Tenovin-6 was initially identified as a p53 activator, but it was later found to inhibit autophagy flux, and the protein deacetylase activity of sirtuins. Tenovin-6 shows promising therapeutic effect in various malignancies. However, it remains unknown whether Tenovin-6 is effective for GC. In this study, we found that EBV-positive and -negative GC cell lines were sensitive to Tenovin-6 but with different response times and doses. Tenovin-6 suppressed anchorage-independent growth of GC cells. Tenovin-6 induced different levels of apoptosis and phases of cell-cycle arrest depending on the cell lines with some manifesting gap 1 (G1) and others showing synthesis (S) phase cell-cycle arrest. Mechanistically, Tenovin-6 induced autophagy or p53 activation in GC cells depending on the status of TP53
gene. However, initiation of autophagy following treatment with Tenovin-6 conferred some protective effect on numerous cells. Combined treatment with Tenovin-6 and autophagy inhibitor chloroquine increased the cytotoxic effect by inducing microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3B (LC3B)-II accumulation, and by enhancing apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest. These results indicated that Tenovin-6 can be used as a potential therapeutic agent for GC, but the genetic background of the cancer cells might determine the response and mechanism of action. Treatment with Tenovin-6 alone or in combination with chloroquine could be a promising therapeutic approach for GC.
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