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      MicroRNA-25 regulates chemoresistance-associated autophagy in breast cancer cells, a process modulated by the natural autophagy inducer isoliquiritigenin

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          Abstract

          Recent findings have revealed that dysregulated miRNAs contribute significantly to autophagy and chemoresistance. Pharmacologically targeting autophagy-related miRNAs is a novel strategy to reverse drug resistance. Here, we report a novel function of isoliquiritigenin (ISL) as a natural inhibitor of autophagy-related miR-25 in killing drug-resistant breast cancer cells. ISL induced chemosensitization, cell cycle arrest and autophagy, but not apoptosis, in MCF-7/ADR cells. ISL also promoted the degradation of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein ABCG2 primarily via the autophagy-lysosome pathway. More importantly, miRNA 3.0 array experiments identified miR-25 as the main target of ISL in triggering autophagy flux. A mechanistic study validated that miR-25 inhibition led to autophagic cell death by directly increasing ULK1 expression, an early regulator in the autophagy induction phase. miR-25 overexpression was demonstrated to block ISL-induced autophagy and chemosensitization. Subsequent in vivo experiments showed that ISL had chemosensitizing potency, as revealed by an increase in LC3-II staining, the downregulation of ABCG2, a reduction in miR-25 expression and the activation of the miR-25 target ULK1. Overall, our results not only indicate that ISL acts as a natural autophagy inducer to increase breast cancer chemosensitivity, but also reveal that miR-25 functions as a novel regulator of autophagy by targeting ULK1.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Dual role of 3-methyladenine in modulation of autophagy via different temporal patterns of inhibition on class I and III phosphoinositide 3-kinase.

          A group of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors, such as 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and wortmannin, have been widely used as autophagy inhibitors based on their inhibitory effect on class III PI3K activity, which is known to be essential for induction of autophagy. In this study, we systematically examined and compared the effects of these two inhibitors on autophagy under both nutrient-rich and deprivation conditions. To our surprise, 3-MA is found to promote autophagy flux when treated under nutrient-rich conditions with a prolonged period of treatment, whereas it is still capable of suppressing starvation-induced autophagy. We first observed that there are marked increases of the autophagic markers in cells treated with 3-MA in full medium for a prolonged period of time (up to 9 h). Second, we provide convincing evidence that the increase of autophagic markers is the result of enhanced autophagic flux, not due to suppression of maturation of autophagosomes or lysosomal function. More importantly, we found that the autophagy promotion activity of 3-MA is due to its differential temporal effects on class I and class III PI3K; 3-MA blocks class I PI3K persistently, whereas its suppressive effect on class III PI3K is transient. Because 3-MA has been widely used as an autophagy inhibitor in the literature, understanding the dual role of 3-MA in autophagy thus suggests that caution should be exercised in the application of 3-MA in autophagy study.
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            Targeting the prodeath and prosurvival functions of autophagy as novel therapeutic strategies in cancer.

            Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal pathway for degrading cytoplasmic proteins, macromolecules, and organelles. While autophagy has become one of the most attractive topics in cancer research, the current autophagy literature is often viewed as confusing, because of its association with apparently contradictory roles, such as survival and cell death. Autophagy can serve as a tumor suppressor, as a partial reduction in autophagic capacity or defective autophagy (e.g., heterozygous knockdown BECN1 (+/-) in mice) provides an oncogenic stimulus, causing malignant transformation and spontaneous tumors. In addition, autophagy seems to function as a protective cell survival mechanism against environmental and cellular stress (e.g., nutrient deprivation, hypoxia and therapeutic stress) and causes resistance to antineoplastic therapies. Recent studies have demonstrated that the inhibition of autophagy in cancer cells may be therapeutically beneficial in some circumstances, as it can sensitize cancer cells to different therapies, including DNA-damaging agents, antihormone therapies (e.g., tamoxifen), and radiation therapy. This supports the hypothesis that inhibiting autophagy can negatively influence cancer cell survival and increase cell death when combined with anticancer agents, providing a therapeutic advantage against cancer. On the other hand, the induction of autophagy by the inhibition of anti-autophagic proteins, such as Bcl-2, PKCdelta, and tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2), may lead to autophagic cell death in some apoptosis-resistant cancers (i.e., breast and pancreatic cancers), indicating that the induction of autophagy alone may also be used as a potential therapy. Overall, the data suggest that, depending on the cellular features, either the induction or the inhibition of autophagy can provide therapeutic benefits to patients and that the design and synthesis of the first-generation modulators of autophagy may provide the tools for proof of concept experiments and the impetus for translational studies that may ultimately lead to new therapeutic strategies in cancer.
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              The ULK1 complex: sensing nutrient signals for autophagy activation.

              The Atg1/ULK1 complex plays a central role in starvation-induced autophagy, integrating signals from upstream sensors such as MTOR and AMPK and transducing them to the downstream autophagy pathway. Much progress has been made in the last few years in understanding the mechanisms by which the complex is regulated through protein-protein interactions and post-translational modifications, providing insights into how the cell modulates autophagy, particularly in response to nutrient status. However, how the ULK1 complex transduces upstream signals to the downstream central autophagy pathway is still unclear. Although the protein kinase activity of ULK1 is required for its autophagic function, its protein substrate(s) responsible for autophagy activation has not been identified. Furthermore, examples of potential ULK1-independent autophagy have emerged, indicating that under certain specific contexts, the ULK1 complex might be dispensable for autophagy activation. This raises the question of how the autophagic machinery is activated independent of the ULK1 complex and what are the biological functions of such noncanonical autophagy pathways.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Oncotarget
                Oncotarget
                ImpactJ
                Oncotarget
                Impact Journals LLC
                1949-2553
                August 2014
                9 July 2014
                : 5
                : 16
                : 7013-7026
                Affiliations
                1 Department of Mammary Disease, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine
                2 School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
                3 Department of Dermatology, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, The Second Clinical Collage of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine
                4 Deapartment of Pharmacology, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Jianping Chen, jpjpchen@ 123456yahoo.com
                Article
                4196180
                25026296
                Copyright: © 2014 Wang et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Categories
                Research Paper

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                autophagy, drug resistance, mirna-25, ulk1, isoliquiritigenin, breast cancer

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