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Concept: Cell cycle


The common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen has been associated with a reduced risk of some age-related pathologies. However, a general pro-longevity role for ibuprofen and its mechanistic basis remains unclear. Here we show that ibuprofen increased the lifespan of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, indicative of conserved eukaryotic longevity effects. Studies in yeast indicate that ibuprofen destabilizes the Tat2p permease and inhibits tryptophan uptake. Loss of Tat2p increased replicative lifespan (RLS), but ibuprofen did not increase RLS when Tat2p was stabilized or in an already long-lived strain background impaired for aromatic amino acid uptake. Concomitant with lifespan extension, ibuprofen moderately reduced cell size at birth, leading to a delay in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Similar changes in cell cycle progression were evident in a large dataset of replicatively long-lived yeast deletion strains. These results point to fundamental cell cycle signatures linked with longevity, implicate aromatic amino acid import in aging and identify a largely safe drug that extends lifespan across different kingdoms of life.

Concepts: Genome, Chromosome, Fungus, Model organism, Cell cycle, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Paracetamol


BACKGROUND: Regardless of the availability of therapeutic options, the overall 5-year survival for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer remains less than 5%. Gum resins from Boswellia species, also known as frankincense, have been used as a major ingredient in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health-related conditions. Both frankincense chemical extracts and essential oil prepared from Boswellia species gum resins exhibit anti-neoplastic activity, and have been investigated as potential anti-cancer agents. The goals of this study are to identify optimal condition for preparing frankincense essential oil that possesses potent anti-tumor activity, and to evaluate the activity in both cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and a xenograft mouse cancer model. METHODS: Boswellia sacra gum resins were hydrodistilled at 78 [degree sign]C; and essential oil distillate fractions were collected at different durations (Fraction I at 0–2 h, Fraction II at 8–10 h, and Fraction III at 11–12 h). Hydrodistillation of the second half of gum resins was performed at 100 [degree sign]C; and distillate was collected at 11–12 h (Fraction IV). Chemical compositions were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS); and total boswellic acids contents were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Frankincense essential oil-modulated pancreatic tumor cell viability and cytotoxicity were determined by colorimetric assays. Levels of apoptotic markers, signaling molecules, and cell cycle regulators expression were characterized by Western blot analysis. A heterotopic (subcutaneous) human pancreatic cancer xenograft nude mouse model was used to evaluate anti-tumor capability of Fraction IV frankincense essential oil in vivo. Frankincense essential oil-induced tumor cytostatic and cytotoxic activities in animals were assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Longer duration and higher temperature hydrodistillation produced more abundant high molecular weight compounds, including boswellic acids, in frankincense essential oil fraactions. Human pancreatic cancer cells were sensitive to Fractions III and IV (containing higher molecular weight compounds) treatment with suppressed cell viability and increased cell death. Essential oil activated the caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway, induced a rapid and transient activation of Akt and Erk1/2, and suppressed levels of cyclin D1 cdk4 expression in cultured pancreatic cancer cells. In addition, Boswellia sacra essential oil Fraction IV exhibited anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities against pancreatic tumors in the heterotopic xenograft mouse model. CONCLUSION: All fractions of frankincense essential oil from Boswellia sacra are capable of suppressing viability and inducing apoptosis of a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Potency of essential oil-suppressed tumor cell viability may be associated with the greater abundance of high molecular weight compounds in Fractions III and IV. Although chemical component(s) responsible for tumor cell cytotoxicity remains undefined, crude essential oil prepared from hydrodistillation of Boswellia sacra gum resins might be a useful alternative therapeutic agent for treating patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Apoptosis, Chemotherapy, Tumor, Neoplasm, Cell cycle, Pancreatic cancer


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Cell biology, Chemotherapy, Cell cycle, Leukemia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Ki-67 and RepoMan have key roles during mitotic exit. Previously, we showed that Ki-67 organizes the mitotic chromosome periphery and recruits protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) to chromatin at anaphase onset, in a similar manner as RepoMan (Booth et al., 2014). Here we show how Ki-67 and RepoMan form mitotic exit phosphatases by recruiting PP1, how they distinguish between distinct PP1 isoforms and how the assembly of these two holoenzymes are dynamically regulated by Aurora B kinase during mitosis. Unexpectedly, our data also reveal that Ki-67 and RepoMan bind PP1 using an identical, yet novel mechanism, interacting with a PP1 pocket that is engaged only by these two PP1 regulators. These findings not only show how two distinct mitotic exit phosphatases are recruited to their substrates, but also provide immediate opportunities for the design of novel cancer therapeutics that selectively target the Ki-67:PP1 and RepoMan:PP1 holoenzymes.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Enzyme, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Kinase, Mitosis, Chromatin, Phosphatase


Emodin has been showed to induce apoptosis of pancreatic cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth in our previous studies. This study was designed to investigate whether emodin could inhibit the angiogenesis of pancreatic cancer tissues and its mechanism.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Apoptosis, Neoplasm, Cell cycle, Pancreatic cancer


BACKGROUND: Temozolomide (TMZ) is the most widely used drug to treat glioblastoma (GBM), which is the most common and aggressive primary tumor of Central Nervous System and one of the hardest challenges in oncotherapy. TMZ is an alkylating agent that induces autophagy, apoptosis and senescence in GBM cells. However, therapy with TMZ increases survival after diagnosis only from 12 to 14.4 months, making the development of combined therapies to treat GBM fundamental. One candidate to GBM therapy is Resveratrol (Rsv), which has additive toxicity with TMZ in several glioma cells in vitro and in vivo. However, the mechanism of Rsv and TMZ additive toxicity, which is the aim of the present work, is not clear, especially concerning cell cycle dynamics and long term effects. METHODS: Glioma cell lines were treated with Rsv and TMZ, alone or in combinations, and the induction and the role of autophagy, apoptosis, cell cycle dynamics and protein expression and phosphorylation status were measured. We further evaluate senescence induction and clonogenic capacity at long term. RESULTS: As expected, temozolomide caused a G2 cell cycle arrest and extensive DNA damage response. Rsv did not reduced this response, even increasing pATM, pChk2 and gammaH2Ax levels, but abrogated the temozolomide-induced G2 arrest, increasing levels of cyclin B and pRb(S807/811) and reducing levels of pWee1(S642) and pCdk1(Y15). This suggests a cellular state of forced passage through G2 checkpoint despite large DNA damage, a scenario that may produce mitotic catastrophe. Indeed, the proportion of cells with high nuclear irregularity increased from 6 to 26% in 48 h after cotreatment. At a long term, a reduction in clonogenic capacity was observed, accompanied by a large induction of senescence. CONCLUSION: The presence of Rsv forces cells treated with TMZ through mitosis leading to mitotic catastrophe and senescence, fully reducing the clonogenic capacity of glioma cells and increasing the chronic effects of temozolomide.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Cancer, Adenosine triphosphate, Cell division, Chromosome, Glioma, Cell cycle


The microtubule-associated protein targeting protein for Xenopus kinesin-like protein 2 (TPX2) plays a key role in spindle assembly and is required for mitosis in human cells. In interphase, TPX2 is actively imported into the nucleus to prevent its premature activity in microtubule organization. To date, no function has been assigned to nuclear TPX2. We now report that TPX2 plays a role in the cellular response to DNA double strand breaks induced by ionizing radiation. Loss of TPX2 leads to inordinately strong and transient accumulation of ionizing radiation-dependent Ser-139-phosphorylated Histone 2AX (γ-H2AX) at G(0) and G(1) phases of the cell cycle. This is accompanied by the formation of increased numbers of high intensity γ-H2AX ionizing radiation-induced foci. Conversely, cells overexpressing TPX2 have reduced levels of γ-H2AX after ionizing radiation. Consistent with a role for TPX2 in the DNA damage response, we found that the protein accumulates at DNA double strand breaks and associates with the mediator of DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1) and the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase, both key regulators of γ-H2AX amplification. Pharmacologic inhibition or depletion of ATM or MDC1, but not of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), antagonizes the γ-H2AX phenotype caused by TPX2 depletion. Importantly, the regulation of γ-H2AX signals by TPX2 is not associated with apoptosis or the mitotic functions of TPX2. In sum, our study identifies a novel and the first nuclear function for TPX2 in the cellular responses to DNA damage.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Chromosome, DNA repair, Cell cycle, Mitosis


Regulation of polarised cell growth is essential for many cellular processes including spatial coordination of cell morphology changes during the division cycle. We present a mathematical model of the core mechanism responsible for the regulation of polarised growth dynamics during the fission yeast cell cycle. The model is based on the competition of growth zones localised at the cell tips for a common substrate distributed uniformly in the cytosol. We analyse the bifurcations in this model as the cell length increases, and show that the growth activation dynamics provides an explanation for the new-end take-off (NETO) as a saddle-node bifurcation at which the cell sharply switches from monopolar to bipolar growth. We study the parameter sensitivity of the bifurcation diagram and relate qualitative changes of the growth pattern, e.g. delayed or absent NETO, to previously observed mutant phenotypes. We investigate the effects of imperfect asymmetric cell division, and show that this leads to distinct growth patterns that provide experimentally testable predictions for validating the presented competitive growth zone activation model. Finally we discuss extension of the model for describing mutant cells with more than two growth zones.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Cell division, Yeast, Model organism, Cell cycle, Ascomycota, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Yeasts


Recent estimates suggest that >300 million people are afflicted by serious fungal infections worldwide. Current antifungal drugs are static and toxic and/or have a narrow spectrum of activity. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of new antifungal drugs. The fungal sphingolipid glucosylceramide (GlcCer) is critical in promoting virulence of a variety of human-pathogenic fungi. In this study, we screened a synthetic drug library for compounds that target the synthesis of fungal, but not mammalian, GlcCer and found two compounds [N'-(3-bromo-4-hydroxybenzylidene)-2-methylbenzohydrazide (BHBM) and its derivative, 3-bromo-N'-(3-bromo-4-hydroxybenzylidene) benzohydrazide (D0)] that were highly effective in vitro and in vivo against several pathogenic fungi. BHBM and D0 were well tolerated in animals and are highly synergistic or additive to current antifungals. BHBM and D0 significantly affected fungal cell morphology and resulted in the accumulation of intracellular vesicles. Deep-sequencing analysis of drug-resistant mutants revealed that four protein products, encoded by genes APL5, COS111, MKK1, and STE2, which are involved in vesicular transport and cell cycle progression, are targeted by BHBM.

Concepts: Bacteria, Chromosome, Fungus, Cell cycle, In vitro, Antifungal drug, Athlete's foot, Griseofulvin


Neuroblastoma is an aggressive childhood disease of the sympathetic nervous system. Treatments are often ineffective and have serious side effects. Conventional therapy of neuroblastoma includes the differentiation agents. Unlike chemo-radiotherapy, differentiation therapy shows minimal side effects on normal cells, because normal non-malignant cells are already differentiated. Keeping in view the limited toxicity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha), the current study was aimed to investigate the efficacy of Ashwagandha water extract (ASH-WEX) for anti-proliferative potential in neuroblastoma and its underlying signalling mechanisms. ASH-WEX significantly reduced cell proliferation and induced cell differentiation as indicated by morphological changes and NF200 expression in human IMR-32 neuroblastoma cells. The induction of differentiation was accompanied by HSP70 and mortalin induction as well as pancytoplasmic translocation of the mortalin in ASH-WEX treated cells. Furthermore, the ASH-WEX treatment lead to induction of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) expression and reduction in its polysialylation, thus elucidating its anti-migratory potential, which was also supported by downregulation of MMP 2 and 9 activity. ASH-WEX treatment led to cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase and increase in early apoptotic population. Modulation of cell cycle marker Cyclin D1, anti-apoptotic marker bcl-xl and Akt-P provide evidence that ASH-WEX may prove to be a promising phytotherapeutic intervention in neuroblatoma related malignancies.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Cancer, Developmental biology, Cell division, Cellular differentiation, Cell cycle, Withania somnifera