Reactive Oxygen Species Generation and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in the Apoptotic Response to Bortezomib, a Novel Proteasome Inhibitor, in Human H460 Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Cells

Yi He Ling, Leonard Liebes, Yiyu Zou, Roman Perez-Soler

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374 Scopus citations


Bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor, shows substantial anti-tumor activity in a variety of tumor cell lines, is in phase I, II, and III clinical trials and has recently been approved for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma. The sequence of events leading to apoptosis following proteasome inhibition by bortezomib is unclear. Bortezomib effects on components of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway were examined: generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), alteration in the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm), and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria. With human H460 lung cancer cells, bortezomib exposure at 0.1 ΜM showed induction of apoptotic cell death starting at 24 h, with increasing effects after 48-72 h of treatment. After 3-6 h, an elevation in ROS generation, an increase in Δψm, and the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, were observed in a time-dependent manner. Co-incubation with rotenone and antimycin A, inhibitors of mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes I and III, or with cyclosporine A, an inhibitor of mitochondrial permeability transition pore, resulted in inhibition of bortezomib-induced ROS generation, increase in Δψm, and cytochrome c release. Tiron, an antioxidant agent, blocked the bortezomib-induced ROS production, Δψm increase, and cytochrome c release. Tiron treatment also protected against the bortezomib-induced PARP protein cleavage and cell death. Benzyloxycarbonyl-VAD-fluoromethyl ketone, an inhibitor of pan-caspase, did not alter the bortezomib-induced ROS generation and increase in Δψm, although it prevented bortezomib-induced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and apoptotic death. In PC-3 prostate carcinoma cells (with overexpression of Bcl-2), a reduction of bortezomib-induced ROS generation, Δψm increase was correlated with cellular resistance to bortezomib and the attenuation of drug-induced apoptosis. The transient transfection of wild type p53 in p53 null H358 cells caused stimulation of the bortezomib-induced apoptosis but failed to enhance ROS generation and Δψm increase. Thus ROS generation plays a critical role in the initiation of the bortezomib-induced apoptotic cascade by mediation of the disruption of Δψm and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33714-33723
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 5 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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