Journal Article

Withaferin A induces p53-dependent apoptosis by repression of HPV oncogenes and upregulation of tumor suppressor proteins in human cervical cancer cells

Radha Munagala, Hina Kausar, Charu Munjal and Ramesh C. Gupta

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 32, issue 11, pages 1697-1705
Published in print November 2011 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgr192
Withaferin A induces p53-dependent apoptosis by repression of HPV oncogenes and upregulation of tumor suppressor proteins in human cervical cancer cells

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Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) expressing E6 and E7 oncoproteins, which are known to inactivate tumor suppressor proteins p53 and pRb, respectively. Repression of HPV oncoproteins would therefore result in reactivation of tumor suppressor pathways and cause apoptosis in cancer cells. Withaferin A (WA), the active component of the medicinal plant Withania Somnifera, has exhibited inhibitory effects against several different cancers. We examined the activity of WA on human cervical cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. WA potently inhibited proliferation of the cervical cancer cells, CaSki (IC50 0.45 ± 0.05 μM). Mechanistically, WA was found to (i) downregulate expression of HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins, (ii) induce accumulation of p53, (iii) increase levels of p21cip1/waf1 and its interaction with proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), (iv) cause G2/M cell cycle arrest, associated with modulation of cyclin B1, p34cdc2 and PCNA levels, (v) decrease the levels of STAT3 and its phosphorylation at Tyr705 and Ser727 and (vi) alter expression levels of p53-mediated apoptotic markers—Bcl2, Bax, caspase-3 and cleaved PARP. In vivo, WA resulted in reduction of nearly 70% of the tumor volume in athymic nude mice with essentially similar trend in the modulation of molecular markers as in vitro. This is the first demonstration indicating that WA significantly downregulates expression of HPV E6/E7 oncogenes and restores the p53 pathway, resulting in apoptosis of cervical cancer cells. Together, our data suggest that WA can be exploited as a potent therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer without deleterious effects.

Journal Article.  5710 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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