Involvement of AMP-activated protein kinase in mediating pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepine-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells.

Investigational new drugs

PubMedID: 27334143

Lennon JC, Butini S, Campiani G, O'Meara A, Williams DC, Zisterer DM. Involvement of AMP-activated protein kinase in mediating pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepine-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells. Invest New Drugs. 2016;.
Neuroblastoma, a paediatric malignancy of the sympathetic nervous system, accounts for 15 % of childhood cancer deaths. Despite advances in understanding the biology, it remains one of the most difficult paediatric cancers to treat partly due to the development of multidrug resistance. There is thus a compelling demand for new treatment strategies that can bypass resistance mechanisms. The pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepine (PBOX) compounds are a series of novel microtubule-targeting agents that potently induce apoptosis in various tumour models. We have previously reported that PBOX compounds induce apoptosis in drug sensitive and multidrug resistant neuroblastoma cells and synergistically enhance apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutics such as carboplatin. In this study we present further data concerning the molecular basis of PBOX-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma. We demonstrate that PBOX-6 induced AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation and downstream acetyl-CoA carboxylase phosphorylation. Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) appeared to serve as the upstream signal for AMPK activation as pretreatment of cells with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine inhibited both AMPK activation and PBOX-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, activation of AMPK by PBOX-6 was found to inhibit mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) signalling. Finally, we demonstrate the efficacy of PBOX-6 in an in vivo xenograft model of neuroblastoma. This study provides new insights into understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in PBOX-induced cell death in neuroblastoma and further supports their future use as novel anti-cancer agents for the treatment of neuroblastoma.