Berberine Suppresses EMT in Liver and Gastric Carcinoma Cells through Combination with TGFR Regulating TGF-/Smad Pathway.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021 ;2021:2337818. Epub 2021 Oct 18. PMID: 34712379
Berberine (BBR), a natural alkaloid derived from Coptis, has anticancer activity. Some researchers have found that it could restrain epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of melanoma, neuroblastoma, and other tumor cells. However, it is unclear whether BBR can reverse EMT in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and gastric carcinoma (GC). In our study, BBR inhibited the migration and invasion of HepG2, MGC803, and SGC7901 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Transcription sequencing assays showed that Vimentin, MMP, and Smad3 were downregulated, but Smad2, Smad6, TAB2, ZO-1, and claudin 7 were upregulated when treated with BBR. GO Enrichment analysis of KEGG pathway showed that BBR significantly inhibited TGF-/Smad at 12 h, then, PI3K/Akt and Wnt/-catenin signaling pathways at 24 h, which were closely related to the proliferation, migration, and EMT. The results of the transcriptome sequencing analysis were verified by Western Blot. It showed that the expression of epithelial marker E-cadherin and ZO-1 remarkably augmented with BBR treatment, as well as declined mesenchymal markers, including N-cadherin and Vimentin, decreased transcription factor Snail and Slug. The effects of BBR were similar to those of the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 and TGF-receptor inhibitor SB431542. Furthermore,-catenin and phosphorylation of AKT, Smad2, and Smad3 were changed dose-dependently by BBR treatment, which upregulated p-Smad2 and downregulated the others. Combined with LY or SB, respectively, BBR could enhance the effects of the two inhibitors. Simultaneously, IGF-1 and TGF-, which is the activator of PI3K/AKT and TGF-/Smad, respectively, could reverse the anti-EMT effect of BBR. The Molecular Docking results showed BBR had a high affinity with the TGF-receptor I (TGFR1), and the binding energy was -7.5 kcal/mol, which is better than the original ligand of TGFR1. Although the affinity of BBR with TGF-receptor II (TGFR2) was lower than the original ligand of TGFR2, the more considerable negative binding energy (-8.54 kcal/mol) was obtained. BBR upregulated p-Smad2, which was different from other reports, indicating that the function of Smad2 was relatively complex. Combination BBR with SB could enhance the effect of the inhibitor on EMT, and the results indicated that BBR binding to TGFR was not competitive with SB to TGFR since different binding amino acid sites. Our experiments demonstrated BBR increased p-Smad2 and decreased p-Smad3 by binding to TGFR1 and TGFR2 inhibiting TGF-/Smad, then, PI3K/AKT and other signaling pathways to restrain EMT, metastasis, and invasion in tumor cells. The effect of BBR was similar on the three tumor cells.