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The pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepines (PBOXs) are a novel group of selective apoptotic agents displaying promising therapeutic potential in both ex vivo chemotherapy-refractory patient samples and in vivo murine carcinoma models. In this report, we present novel data concerning the induction of autophagy by the PBOXs in adenocarcinoma-derived colon cancer cells. Autophagy is a lysosome-dependent degradative pathway recently associated with chemotherapy. However, whether autophagy facilitates cell survival in response to chemotherapy or contributes to chemotherapy-induced cell death is highly controversial. Autophagy was identified by enhanced expression of LC3B-II, an autophagosome marker, an increase in the formation of acridine orange-stained cells, indicative of increased vesicle formation and electron microscopic confirmation of autophagic structures. The vacuolar H+ ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin-A1 (BAF-A1) inhibited vesicle formation and enhanced the apoptotic potential of PBOX-6. These findings suggest a cytoprotective role of autophagy in these cells following prolonged exposure to PBOX-6. Furthermore, BAF-A1 and PBOX-6 interactions were determined to be synergistic and caspase-dependent. Potentiation of PBOX-6-induced apoptosis by BAF-A1 was associated with a decrease in the levels of the anti-apoptotic protein, Mcl-1. The data provide evidence that autophagy functions as a survival mechanism in colon cancer cells to PBOX-6-induced apoptosis and a rationale for the use of autophagy inhibitors to further enhance PBOX‑6‑induced apoptosis in colon cancer.

Original publication

DOI

10.3892/ijo.2013.1989

Type

Journal article

Journal

International journal of oncology

Publication Date

09/2013

Volume

43

Pages

927 - 935

Addresses

School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Keywords

Cell Line, Tumor, Lysosomes, Animals, Humans, Mice, Adenocarcinoma, Colonic Neoplasms, Macrolides, Oxazepines, Pyrroles, Caspases, Microtubule-Associated Proteins, Apoptosis, Cell Survival, Drug Synergism, Autophagy