MG-2477, a new tubulin inhibitor, induces autophagy through inhibition of the Akt/mTOR pathway and delayed apoptosis in A549 cells

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Graphical abstractComputer model depicting MG-2477 within the colchicine binding domain.We previously demonstrated that MG-2477 (3-cyclopropylmethyl-7-phenyl-3H-pyrrolo[3,2-f]quinolin-9(6H)-one) inhibits the growth of several cancer cell lines in vitro. Here we show that MG-2477 inhibited tubulin polymerization and caused cells to arrest in metaphase. The detailed mechanism of action of MG-2477 was investigated in a non-small cell lung carcinoma cell line (A549). Treatment of A549 cells with MG-2477 caused the cells to arrest in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, with a concomitant accumulation of cyclin B. Moreover, the compound induced autophagy, which was followed at later times by apoptotic cell death. Autophagy was detected as early as 12 h by the conversion of microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3-I) to LC3-II, following cleavage and lipid addition to LC3-I. After 48 h of MG-2477 exposure, phosphatidylserine externalization on the cell membrane, caspase-3 activation, and PARP cleavage occurred, revealing that apoptotic cell death had begun. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy with 3-methyladenine or bafilomycin A1 increased apoptotic cell death, suggesting that the autophagy caused by MG-2477 played a protective role and delayed apoptotic cell death. Additional studies revealed that MG-2477 inhibited survival signaling by blocking activation of Akt and its downstream targets, including mTOR, and FHKR. Treatment with MG-2477 also reduced phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets p70 ribosomal S6 kinase and 4E-BP1. Overexpression of Akt by transfection with a Myr-Akt vector decreased MG-2477 induced autophagy, indicating that Akt is involved. Taken together, these results indicated that the autophagy induced by MG-2477 delayed apoptosis by exerting an adaptive response following microtubule damage.

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