DOI: 10.1155/2024/7683793 ISSN: 1942-0994

ACA-28, an ERK MAPK Signaling Modulator, Exerts Anticancer Activity through ROS Induction in Melanoma and Pancreatic Cancer Cells

Teruaki Takasaki, Yasuyuki Hamabe, Kenta Touchi, Golam Iftakhar Khandakar, Takeshi Ueda, Hitoshi Okada, Kazuko Sakai, Kazuto Nishio, Genzoh Tanabe, Reiko Sugiura
  • Cell Biology
  • Aging
  • General Medicine
  • Biochemistry

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) MAPK pathway is dysregulated in various human cancers and is considered an attractive therapeutic target for cancer. Therefore, several inhibitors of this pathway are being developed, and some are already used in the clinic. We have previously identified an anticancer compound, ACA-28, with a unique property to preferentially induce ERK-dependent apoptosis in melanoma cells. To comprehensively understand the biological cellular impact induced by ACA-28, we performed a global gene expression analysis of human melanoma SK-MEL-28 cells exposed to ACA-28 using a DNA microarray. The transcriptome analysis identified nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a master transcription factor that combats oxidative stress, as the most upregulated genetic pathway after ACA-28 treatment. Consistently, ACA-28 showed properties to increase the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as well as Nrf2 protein, which is normally repressed by proteasomal degradation and activated in response to oxidative stresses. Furthermore, the ROS scavenger N-acetyl cysteine significantly attenuated the anticancer activity of ACA-28. Thus, ACA-28 activates Nrf2 signaling and exerts anticancer activity partly via its ROS-stimulating property. Interestingly, human A549 cancer cells with constitutively high levels of Nrf2 protein showed resistance to ACA-28, as compared with SK-MEL-28. Transient overexpression of Nrf2 also increased the resistance of cells to ACA-28, while knockdown of Nrf2 exerted the opposite effect. Thus, upregulation of Nrf2 signaling protects cancer cells from ACA-28-mediated cell death. Notably, the Nrf2 inhibitor ML385 substantially enhanced the cell death-inducing property of ACA-28 in pancreatic cancer cells, T3M4 and PANC-1. Our data suggest that Nrf2 plays a key role in determining cancer cell susceptibility to ACA-28 and provides a novel strategy for cancer therapy to combine the Nrf2 inhibitor and ACA-28.

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