Anticancer effects of monocarbonyl analogs of curcumin: oxidative stress, nuclear translocation and modulation of AP-1 and NF-κB

Brian Adams, Marike Herold, Eva Ferstl, Jungwhan Choi, Shijun Zhu, Vladimir Bogdanov, Bassel El-Rayes, Aiming Sun, Dennis Liotta, James Snyder, Mamoru Shoji


Purpose: In order to elucidate anticancer effects of monocarbonyl analogs of curcumin (MACs), we have undertaken the present study to obtain information regarding drug targets by using a microarray approach, and to study the cellular localization of EF24 and the activity of two key transcription factors, AP-1 and NF-κB, involved in complex cellular responses of cell survival and death.

Methods: Cytotoxic activity of various drugs was evaluated using a Neutral Red Dye assay. Cellular localization of biotinylated EF24 (active) and reduced EF24 (inactive) was determined using light and confocal microscopy. Measurement of transcription factor binding was carried out using Transfactor ELISA kits (BD Clontech, Palo Alto, CA). Gene microarray processing was performed at Expression Analysis, Inc (Durham, NC) using Affymetrix Human U133A Gene Chips.

Results: In this study, we demonstrated that EF24 and UBS109 exhibit much more potent cytotoxic activity against pancreatic cancer than the current standard chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine. EF24, rapidly localizes to the cell nucleus. The compound modulates the DNA binding activity of NF-κB and AP-1 in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells and DU-145 human prostate cancer cells. Immunohistochemical studies utilizing biotinylated-EF24 and chemically-reduced EF24 show that the unsaturated compound and biotinylated EF24, but not reduced EF24, translocates to the nucleus within 30 minutes after the addition of drug. Through a gene microarray study, EF24 is shown to affect genes directly involved in cytoprotection, tumor growth, angiogenesis, metastasis and apoptosis.

Conclusion: EF24 and UBS109 warrant further investigation for development of pancreatic cancer therapy. The dualistic modulations of gene expression may be a manifestation of the cell responses for survival against oxidative stress by EF24. However, the cytotoxic action of EF24 ultimately prevails to kill the cells.


Curcumin Analogs; EF24; UBS109; Pancreatic, Breast and Prostate Cancers; Oxidative Stress; Nuclear Translocation; NF-κB; AP-1

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