Actinomycin D synergistically enhances the efficacy of the BH3 mimetic ABT-737 by downregulating Mcl-1 expression

Cancer Biology & Therapy
Kristen E OlberdingChi Li


Many types of cancer cells possess the ability to evade apoptosis, leading to their rapid and uncontrolled proliferation. As major regulators of apoptosis, Bcl-2 proteins serve as emerging targets for novel chemotherapeutic strategies. In this study, we examined the involvement of Bcl-2 proteins in apoptosis induced by the chemotherapeutic agent actinomycin D. A dramatic decrease in anti-apoptotic myeloid leukemia cell differentiation protein (Mcl-1) mRNA and protein expression was detected upon actinomycin D treatment. Further, Mcl-l over-expression caused resistance to cell death upon treatment with actinomycin D, implicating a role for the down-regulation of Mcl-1 in actinomycin D-induced apoptosis. We also explored the therapeutic potential of actinomycin D in combination with ABT-737, an experimental agent that inhibits anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. Actinomycin D sensitized cells to ABT-737 treatment in a Bak- or Bax-dependent manner. Importantly, low concentrations of actinomycin D and ABT-737 were more effective in inducing cell death in transformed cells than their untransformed counterparts. A synergistic effect of actinomycin D and ABT-737 on cell death was observed in several human tumor cell lines. Like actinomycin...Continue Reading


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