Apigenin by targeting hnRNPA2 sensitizes triple-negative breast cancer spheroids to doxorubicin-induced apoptosis and regulates expression of ABCC4 and ABCG2 drug efflux transporters.
Biochem Pharmacol. 2020 Oct 1:114259. Epub 2020 Oct 1. PMID: 33011162
Acquired resistance to doxorubicin is a major hurdle in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) therapy, emphasizing the need to identify improved strategies. Apigenin and other structurally related dietary flavones are emerging as potential chemo-sensitizers, but their effect on three-dimensional TNBC spheroid models has not been investigated. We previously showed that apigenin associates with heterogeneous ribonuclear protein A2/B1 (hnRNPA2), an RNA-binding protein involved in mRNA and co-transcriptional regulation. However, the role of hnRNPA2 in apigenin chemo-sensitizing activity has not been investigated. Here, we show that apigenin induced apoptosis in TNBC spheroids more effectively than apigenin-glycoside, owing to higher cellular uptake. Moreover, apigenin inhibited the growth of TNBC patient-derived organoids at an in vivo achievable concentration. Apigenin sensitized spheroids to doxorubicin-induced DNA damage, triggering caspase-9-mediated intrinsic apoptotic pathway and caspase-3 activity. Silencing of hnRNPA2 decreased apigenin-induced sensitization to doxorubicin in spheroids by diminishing apoptosis and partly abrogated apigenin-mediated reduction of ABCC4 and ABCG2 efflux transporters. Together these findings provide novel insights into the critical role of hnRNPA2 in mediating apigenin-induced sensitization of TNBC spheroids to doxorubicin by increasing the expression of efflux transporters and apoptosis, underscoring the relevance of using dietary compounds as a chemotherapeutic adjuvant.