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Keywords:

  • APOPTOSIS;
  • EPIDERMAL GROWTH FACTOR RECEPTOR;
  • MAPK;
  • REACTIVE OXYGEN SPECIES;
  • VERRUCARIN A

ABSTRACT

The present study was carried out to elucidate the mechanisms underlying Verrucarin A (VA)-induced cytotoxicity in human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231. VA inhibited the growth of MDA-MB-231 cells by induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis. Elevation of ROS production, associated with changes in Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, led to loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and cytochrome c release in VA-treated cells. Release of cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol triggered activation of caspase-3, PARP cleavage, DNA fragmentation, and finally apoptotic cell death. Furthermore, VA-induced apoptosis was accompanied by the activation of p38MAPK and inhibition of phosphorylation of EGFR as well as of Akt and ERK1/2. However, pre-treatment with n-acetyl cysteine, an ROS scavenger, and SB202190, a p38MAPK inhibitor, significantly inhibited VA-induced ROS generation, EGFR inhibition, p38MAPK activation and apoptosis. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of EGFR and ERK1/2 significantly accelerated the VA-induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells. Collectively, these results indicate that VA-induces ROS elevation in cancer cells, which results in the activation of p38MAPK and inhibition of EGFR/Akt/ERK signaling cascade and, ultimately, cancer cell death. J. Cell. Biochem. 115: 2022–2032, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.