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Erastin Disrupts Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore (mPTP) and Induces Apoptotic Death of Colorectal Cancer Cells

We here evaluated the potential anti-colorectal cancer activity by erastin, a voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC)-binding compound. Our in vitro studies showed that erastin exerted potent cytotoxic effects against multiple human colorectal cancer cell lines, possibly via inducing oxidative stress and caspase-9 dependent cell apoptosis. Further, mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening was observed in erastin-treated cancer cells, which was evidenced by VDAC-1 and cyclophilin-D (Cyp-D) association, mitochondrial depolarization, and cytochrome C release. Caspase inhibitors, the ROS scavenger MnTBAP, and mPTP blockers (sanglifehrin A, cyclosporin A and bongkrekic acid), as well as shRNA-mediated knockdown of VDAC-1, all significantly attenuated erastin-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells. On the other hand, over-expression of VDAC-1 augmented erastin-induced ROS production, mPTP opening, and colorectal cancer cell apoptosis. In vivo studies showed that intraperitoneal injection of erastin at well-tolerated doses dramatically inhibited HT-29 xenograft growth in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Together, these results demonstrate that erastin is cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic to colorectal cancer cells. Erastin may be further investigated as a novel anti-colorectal cancer agent.

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