Previous studies have evidenced that the anticancer potential of curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a main yellow bioactive compound from plant turmeric was mediated by interfering with PI3K/Akt signaling. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is still poorly understood. This study experimentally revealed that curcumin treatment reduced Akt protein expression in a dose- and time-dependent manner in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, along with an activation of autophagy and suppression of ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) function. The curcumin-reduced Akt expression, cell proliferation, and migration were prevented by genetic and pharmacological inhibition of autophagy but not by UPS inhibition. Additionally, inactivation of AMPK by its specific inhibitor compound C or by target shRNA-mediated silencing attenuated curcumin-activated autophagy. Thus, these results indicate that curcumin-stimulated AMPK activity induces activation of the autophagy-lysosomal protein degradation pathway leading to Akt degradation and the subsequent suppression of proliferation and migration in breast cancer cell.
Guan, F., Ding, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhou, Y., Li, M., & Wang, C. (2016). Curcumin suppresses proliferation and migration of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells through autophagy-dependent Akt degradation. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0146553