Fatty acid synthase is overexpressed in cancer especially in tumors with a poor prognosis. The specific fatty acid synthase inhibitor cerulenin can induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Likewise, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt kinase activities are elevated in primary tumors and cancer cell lines. Here, we tested whether inhibition of PI3K/Akt pathway would sensitize cancer cells to cerulenin-induced apoptosis. We show that LY294002, an inhibitor of PI3K, sensitized MDA-MB468 breast cancer cells to cerulenin-induced apoptosis. In MDA-MB468 cells, cerulenin- and LY294002-mediated apoptosis was associated with caspase-3 activation and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol. In addition, we observed additional species of Bak in mitochondria, suggesting a possible Bak activation. Treatment of cells with cerulenin and LY294002 down-regulated the protein levels of X chromosome-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP), cellular inhibitor of apoptosis 1 (cIAP-1), and Akt, whereas the levels of mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase and other antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins (Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl) did not change. Interestingly, the nonspecific caspase inhibitor, z-VAD-FMK, inhibited the down-regulation of Akt, XIAP, and cIAP-1 in cerulenin- and LY294002-treated cells. In conclusion, these studies show that inhibition of PI3K can sensitize cerulenin-induced apoptosis in MBA-MB468 breast cancer cells via activation of caspases, down-regulation of antiapoptotic proteins, such as XIAP, cIAP-1 and Akt, and possibly, activation of Bak in mitochondria.
Liu, X., Shi, Y., Giranda, V. L., & Luo, Y. (2006). Inhibition of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway sensitizes MDA-MB468 human breast cancer cells to cerulenin-induced apoptosis. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 5(3), 494–501. https://doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.mct-05-0049