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Neferine induces autophagy-dependent cell death in apoptosis-resistant cancers via ryanodine receptor and Ca 2+ -dependent mechanismAbstract: Resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy is a significant clinical concern and mechanisms regulating cell death in cancer therapy, including apoptosis, autophagy or necrosis, have been extensively investigated over the last decade. Accordingly, the identification of medicinal compounds against chemoresistant cancer cells via new mechanism of action is highly desired. Autophagy is important in inducing cell death or survival in cancer therapy. Recently, novel autophagy activators isolated from natural products were shown to induce autophagic cell death in apoptosis-resistant cancer cells in a calcium-dependent manner. Therefore, enhancement of autophagy may serve as additional therapeutic strategy against these resistant cancers. By computational docking analysis, biochemical assays, and advanced live-cell imaging, we identified that neferine, a natural alkaloid from Nelumbo nucifera, induces autophagy by activating the ryanodine receptor and calcium release. With well-known apoptotic agents, such as staurosporine, taxol, doxorubicin, cisplatin and etoposide, utilized as controls, neferine was shown to induce autophagic cell death in a panel of cancer cells, including apoptosis-defective and -resistant cancer cells or isogenic cancer cells, via calcium mobilization through the activation of ryanodine receptor and Ulk-1-PERK and AMPK-mTOR signaling cascades. Taken together, this study provides insights into the cytotoxic mechanism of neferine-induced autophagy through ryanodine receptor activation in resistant cancers.
Targeting STAT3 signaling using stabilised sulforaphane (SFX-01) inhibits endocrine resistant stem-like cells in ER-positive breast cancerAbstract: Estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer is frequently sensitive to endocrine therapy. Multiple mechanisms of endocrine therapy resistance have been identified, including cancer stem-like cell (CSC) activity. Here we investigate SFX-01, a stabilised formulation of sulforaphane (SFN), for its effects on breast CSC activity in ER+ preclinical models. SFX‐01 reduced mammosphere formation efficiency (MFE) of ER+ primary and metastatic patient samples. Both tamoxifen and fulvestrant increased MFE and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumors, which was reversed by combination with SFX‐01. SFX-01 significantly reduced tumor-initiating cell frequency in secondary transplants and reduced the formation of spontaneous lung micrometastases by PDX tumors in mice. Mechanistically, we establish that both tamoxifen and fulvestrant induce STAT3 phosphorylation. SFX-01 suppressed phospho‐STAT3 and SFN directly bound STAT3 in patient and PDX samples. Analysis of ALDH+ cells from endocrine-resistant patient samples revealed activation of STAT3 target genes MUC1 and OSMR, which were inhibited by SFX-01 in patient samples. Increased expression of these genes after 3 months’ endocrine treatment of ER+ patients (n = 68) predicted poor prognosis. Our data establish the importance of STAT3 signaling in CSC-mediated resistance to endocrine therapy and the potential of SFX-01 for improving clinical outcomes in ER+ breast cancer.