Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematological malignant disorder. AML cells are not susceptible to chemotherapeutic drugs because of their multidrug resistance (MDR). Antitubulin agents are currently employed in cancer treatments; however, drug resistance results in treatment failures because of MDR1 expressing cancer cells. We previously synthesized a new tubulin inhibitor, 2-dimethylamino-N-[1-(4-methoxy-benzenesulfonyl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-indol-7-yl]-acetamide (MPT0B169), which inhibits AML cell proliferation by arresting cell cycle at the G2/M phase. In this study, we explored the effect of MPT0B169 on apoptosis in AML HL60 and NB4 cells and MDR1-mediated taxol-resistant HL60/TaxR cells and the underlying mechanism. MPT0B169 induced concentration- and time-dependent apoptosis in these cancer cells, as observed through annexin V/propidium iodide double staining and flow cytometry. Furthermore, DNA fragmentation analysis confirmed MPT0B169-induced apoptosis. MPT0B169 induced a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, cleavage and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, and consequently cleavage of poly (ADP ribose) polymerase. Western blot analysis showed that MPT0B169 markedly reduced Mcl-1 (an antiapoptotic protein) levels; however, it caused no changes in Bcl-2 or BAX (a proapoptotic protein). Knockdown of Mcl-1 using small interfering RNA (siRNA) slightly induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in the HL60 and HL60/TaxR cells. Further investigation revealed that Mcl-1 siRNA enhanced the sensitivity of HL60 and HL60/TaxR cells to MPT0B169-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis. Together, these results demonstrated that MPT0B169-induced apoptosis in nonresistant and MDR1-mediated taxol-resistant AML cells through Mcl-1 downregulation and a mitochondria-mediated pathway. MPT0B169 can overcome MDR1-mediated drug resistance in AML cells.
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