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Polyphyllin I induces mitophagic and apoptotic cell death in human breast cancer cells by increasing mitochondrial PINK1 levels

The molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-breast cancer effects of polyphyllin I, a natural compound extracted from Paris polyphylla rhizomes, are not fully understood. In the present study, we found that polyphyllin I induces mitochondrial translocation of DRP1 by dephosphorylating DRP1 at Ser637, leading to mitochondrial fission, cytochrome c release from mitochondria into the cytosol and, ultimately apoptosis. Polyphyllin I also increased the stabilization of full-length PINK1 at the mitochondrial surface, leading to the recruitment of PARK2, P62, ubiquitin, and LC3B-II to mitochondria and culminating in mitophagy. PINK1 knockdown markedly suppressed polyphyllin I-induced mitophagy and enhanced polyphyllin I-induced, DRP1-dependent mitochondrial fission and apoptosis. Furthermore, suppression of DRP1 by mdivi-1 or shRNA inhibited PINK1 knockdown/polyphyllin I-induced mitochondrial fragmentation and apoptosis, suggesting that PINK1 depletion leads to excessive fission and, subsequently, mitochondrial fragmentation. An in vivo study confirmed that polyphyllin I greatly inhibited tumor growth and induced apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 xenografts, and these effects were enhanced by PINK1 knockdown. These data describe the mechanism by which PINK1 contributes to polyphyllin I-induced mitophagy and apoptosis and suggest that polyphyllin I may be an effective drug for breast cancer treatment.

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