Journal Article

Bax and Bak genes are essential for maximum apoptotic response by curcumin, a polyphenolic compound and cancer chemopreventive agent derived from turmeric, <i>Curcuma longa</i>

Sharmila Shankar and Rakesh K. Srivastava

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 28, issue 6, pages 1277-1286
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online February 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgm024
Bax and Bak genes are essential for maximum apoptotic response by curcumin, a polyphenolic compound and cancer chemopreventive agent derived from turmeric, Curcuma longa

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Curcumin, an active ingredient of turmeric (Curcuma longa), inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in cancer cells, but the sequence of events leading to cell death is poorly defined. The objective of this study was to examine the molecular mechanisms by which multidomain pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members Bax and Bak regulate curcumin-induced apoptosis using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) deficient in Bax, Bak or both genes. Curcumin treatment resulted an increase in the protein levels of both Bax and Bak, and mitochondrial translocation and activation of Bax in MEFs to trigger drop in mitochondrial membrane potential, cytosolic release of apoptogenic molecules [cytochrome c and second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (Smac)/direct inhibitor of apoptosis protein-binding protein with low isoelectric point], activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3 and ultimately apoptosis. Furthermore, MEFs derived from Bax and Bak double-knockout (DKO) mice exhibited even greater protection against curcumin-induced release of cytochrome c and Smac, activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9 and induction of apoptosis compared with wild-type MEFs or single-knockout Bax−/− or Bak−/− MEFs. Interestingly, curcumin treatment also caused an increase in the protein level of apoptosis protease-activating factor-1 in wild-type MEFs. Smac N7 peptide enhanced curcumin-induced apoptosis, whereas Smac siRNA inhibited the effects of curcumin on apoptosis. Mature form of Smac sensitized Bax and Bak DKO MEFs to undergo apoptosis by acting downstream of mitochondria. The present study demonstrates the role of Bax and Bak as a critical regulator of curcumin-induced apoptosis and over-expression of Smac as interventional approaches to deal with Bax- and/or Bak-deficient chemoresistant cancers for curcumin-based therapy.

Journal Article.  7043 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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