Microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) are widely used in cancer chemotherapy, but the therapeutic responses significantly vary among different tumor types. Protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticular (ER) kinase (PERK) is an ER stress kinase, and the role of PERK in the anticancer effects of MTAs is still undefined. In the present study, taxol (TAX) and nocodazole (NOC) significantly induced apoptosis with increased expression of phosphorylated PERK (pPERK; Tyr980) in four human colon cancer cell lines, including HCT-15, COLO205, HT-20, and LOVO cells. Induction of G2/M arrest by TAX and NOC with increases in phosphorylated Cdc25C and cyclin B1 protein were observed in human colon cancer cells. Application of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitors SP600125 (SP) and JNK inhibitor V (JNKI) significantly reduced TAX-and NOC-induced apoptosis and G2/M arrest of human colon cancer cells. Interestingly, TAX-and NOC-induced pPERK (Tyr980) protein expression was inhibited by adding the JNK inhibitors, SP and JNKI, and application of the PERK inhibitor GSK2606414 (GSK) significantly reduced apoptosis and G2/M arrest by TAX and NOC, with decreased pPERK (Tyr980) and pJNK, phosphorylated Cdc25C, and Cyc B1 protein expressions in human colon cancer cells. Decreased viability by TAX and NOC was inhibited by knockdown of PERK using PERK siRNA in COLO205 and HCT-15 cells. Disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential and an increase in B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) protein phosphorylation (pBcl-2; Ser70) by TAX and NOC were prevented by adding the PERK inhibitor GSK and JNK inhibitor SP and JNKI. A cross-activation of JNK and PERK by TAX and NOC leading to anti-CRC actions including apoptosis and G2/M arrest was first demonstrated herein.
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