Ellipticine-induced apoptosis depends on Akt translocation and signaling in lung epithelial cancer cells

Kang Fang, Shih Ping Chen, Chia Wei Lin, Wan Chun Cheng, Hwei Tien Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Ellipticine and its analogues were reported as topoisomerase II inhibitors and promising antitumor agents. In this work, we showed that the growth of human non-small-cell-lung-cancer (NSCLC) epithelial cells A549 can be inhibited by ellipticine. The inhibitory effect was reverted by PI3K inhibitors. The sub-G 1 phase cells after ellipticine treatment appeared at the expense of those that accumulated first at S- and G 2 /M phases during the early stage of treatment. We showed that the progression leading to cell death was impaired by wortmannin, which reverted apoptosis by retaining cells at S- and G 2 /M transition states. The characteristic apoptosis marker p53 activation after treatment appeared first followed by poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP) fragmentation. They disappeared upon co-treatment with wortmannin and the apoptotic phenotype reversed. Furthermore, ellipticine regulated endogenous survival signaling by up-regulating phosphorylated Akt that returned to its basal level later. Furthermore, ellipticine induced nucleus translocalization of p53 and Akt and recruitment of autophagosomes. The autophagic-related cell death was interfered by wortmannin and the suppressed growth reverted. The Akt-related cell death also occurred in p53-deficient cells with stable expression of exogenous p53. The work showed that ellipticine-induced cytotoxicity in NSCLC cells was achieved through autophagy and apoptotic death as a result of Akt-modulation. Being a topoisomerase II inhibitor, ellipticine proved a regulator in autophagy-related cell death through corporation of p53 and Akt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Feb


  • Akt
  • Apoptosis
  • Ellipticine
  • Human non-small-cell-lung-cancer cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research

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