Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor associated with childhood and adolescence. In the present study, we investigated the anticancer effect of a new isoflavone derivative, 3′,4′-dichloro-3-(3,4-dichlorophenylacetyl)-2,4,6-trihydroxydeoxybenzoin (DDTD) in human osteosarcoma cells. DDTD induced cell apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cell lines (including: U2OS, MG-63, Saos2 and ROS 17/2.8). We found that the accumulation of reactive oxygen species is a critical mediator in DDTD-induced cell death. DDTD induced apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) dephosphorylation and its dissociation from 14-3-3. Treatment of osteosarcoma cells with DDTD induced p38 and p53 phosphorylation. Transfection with ASK1, mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MKK)3/6, and p38 small interfering RNA (siRNA) antagonized the DDTD-induced cell apoptosis. DDTD also triggered the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, as indicated by a change in Bax/Bcl2 ratio and Caspase-9 activation. Bax knockdown using a Bax siRNA strategy reduced Bax expression and subsequent cell death. In addition, transfection of cells with ASK1, MKK3/6, and p38 siRNA reduced DDTD-induced p38 activation, p53 phosphorylation and Bax expression. These results suggest that DDTD generates reactive oxygen species and activates the ASK1-MKK3/6-p38-p53-Bax pathway to cause osteosarcoma cell death.
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