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Sasanquasaponin ΙΙΙ from Schima crenata Korth induces autophagy through Akt/mTOR/p70S6K pathway and promotes apoptosis in human melanoma A375 cells

Liang, Qiu-Ping, Xu, Tian-Qi, Liu, Bai-Lian, Lei, Xue-Ping, Hambrook, Jacob R., Zhang, Dong-Mei, Zhou, Guang-Xiong
Phytomedicine 2019 v.58 pp. 152769
Schima wallichii subsp. crenata, antineoplastic activity, apoptosis, autophagy, breast neoplasms, caspases, cytotoxicity, death, death domain receptors, drugs, fluorescence, hepatoma, humans, melanoma, membrane potential, mitochondria, mitochondrial membrane, reactive oxygen species, signal transduction, skin neoplasms, staining, therapeutics, transfection, transmission electron microscopy, viability assays
Melanoma is a high fatality skin cancer which lacks effective drugs. Sasanquasaponin, an important sort of constituents in theaceae, has been demonstrated to have potent anti-tumor effect in breast cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma. As a sasanquasaponin, we speculate that Sasanquasaponin III (SQS III) isolated from Schima crenata Korth may also have anti-tumor activity.This study aims to investigate whether SQS III has anti-melanoma activity and examine the underlying mechanisms of SQS III against melanoma.The anti-proliferative effect of SQS III was assessed by cells viability assay. Annexin V-FITC/PI double staining assay was utilized for detection of apoptosis. Mitochondrial membrane potential and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were detected using JC-1 and DCFH-DA assay, respectively. Autophagy was monitored using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and GFP-LC3 transfection fluorescence analysis. Autophagosome-lysosome fusion and lysosomal degradation were determined using a GFP-LC3 & LAMP1 co-localization assay and DQ-BSA staining. Proteins related to apoptosis and autophagy were analyzed by Western blotting.Our results demonstrated that the SQS III exhibited potent anti-cancer activity in A375 cells by inducing both apoptosis and autophagy. In melanoma cells treated with SQS III, caspases were activated and PARP was cleaved, proving the occurrence of apoptosis. Mechanistic studies indicated that the pro-apoptosis activity of SQS III was mediated by death receptor pathway and mitochondrial dysfunction which was induced by ROS accumulation and reversed by the ROS inhibitor N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). In addition to triggering apoptosis, SQS III may also cause autophagy in melanoma cells. Our results demonstrated that SQS III induced up-regulated expression of GFP-LC3, autophagosome-lysosomal fusion and lysosomal degradation. Additionally, the ROS accumulation was also involved in the activation of autophagy. Meanwhile, it was also found that after SQS III treatment, the expression of LC3-II was up-regulated and the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway was inhibited. The autophagy inhibitor 3-MA converted cytotoxicity and apoptosis of SQS III in A375 cells, which indicated that autophagy promoted the SQS III-induced apoptosis.SQS III showed potent anti-cancer activity by inducing apoptosis and autophagy, which provides insights into its possible use as a therapy for melanoma.