Cucurbitacin E could induce autophagy in human cancer cells. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Cucurbitacin E Induces Autophagy via Downregulating mTORC1 Signaling and Upregulating AMPK Activity.
PLoS One. 2015 ;10(5):e0124355. Epub 2015 May 13. PMID: 25970614
Cucurbitacins, the natural triterpenoids possessing many biological activities, have been reported to suppress the mTORC1/p70S6K pathway and to induce autophagy. However, the correlation between such activities is largely unknown. In this study, we addressed this issue in human cancer cells in response to cucurbitacin E (CuE) treatment. Our results showed that CuE induced autophagy as evidenced by the formation of LC3-II and colocalization of punctate LC3 with the lysosomal marker LAMP2 in HeLa and MCF7 cells. However, CuE induced much lower levels of autophagy in ATG5-knocked down cells and failed to induce autophagy in DU145 cells lacking functional ATG5 expression, suggesting the dependence of CuE-induced autophagy on ATG5. Consistent with autophagy induction, mTORC1 activity (as reflected by p70S6K and ULK1S758 phosphorylation) was inhibited by CuE treatment. The suppression of mTORC1 activity was further confirmed by reduced recruitment of mTOR to the lysosome, which is the activation site of mTORC1. In contrast, CuE rapidly activated AMPK leading to increased phosphorylation of its substrates. AMPK activation contributed to CuE-induced suppression of mTORC1/p70S6K signaling and autophagy induction, since AMPK knockdown diminished these effects. Collectively, our data suggested that CuE induced autophagy in human cancer cells at least partly via downregulation of mTORC1 signaling and upregulation of AMPK activity.