Research Papers:

Cordycepin induces autophagy-mediated c-FLIPL degradation and leads to apoptosis in human non-small cell lung cancer cells

Xinghui Yu, Jianya Ling, Xianfang Liu, Sen Guo, Yidan Lin, Xiangguo Liu _ and Ling Su

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:6691-6699. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14262

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Xinghui Yu1,*, Jianya Ling1,*, Xianfang Liu2, Sen Guo1, Yidan Lin3, Xiangguo Liu1, Ling Su1

1Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Animal Cells and Developmental Biology, Shandong University School of Life Sciences, Jinan, China

2The Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, Jinan, China

3The Thoracic Surgery Department of West China Hospital, West China Medical School of Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Ling Su, email: [email protected]

Keywords: apoptosis, c-FLIP, autophagy, cordycepin

Received: June 16, 2016     Accepted: December 01, 2016     Published: December 27, 2016


Cordycepin, a main active composition extracted from Cordyceps militaris, has been reported to exert anti-tumor activity in a broad spectrum of cancer types. However, the function of cordycepin on human non-small cell lung cancer cells is still obscure. Our present work showed that cordycepin inhibited cell growth by inducing apoptosis and autophagy in human NSCLC cells. Further study revealed that cordycepin triggered extrinsic apoptosis associated with down-regulation of c-FLIPL which suppresses the activity of caspase-8. And ectopic expression of c-FLIPL dramatically prevented cordycepin-caused apoptosis. Meanwhile, cordycepin stimulated autophagy through suppressing mTOR signaling pathway in lung cancer cells. When autophagy was blocked by Atg5 siRNA or PI3K inhibitor LY294002, the levels of apoptosis caused by cordycepin were obviously attenuated. In addition, suppression of autophagy could also elevate the level of c-FLIPL which indicated cordycepin-triggered autophagy promoted the degradation of c-FLIPL. Therefore, we conclude that cordycepin induces apoptosis through autophagy-mediated downregulation of c-FLIPL in human NSCLC cells. Taken together, our findings provide a novel prospect on the anti-tumor property of cordycepin, which may further prompt cordycepin to serve as a promising therapeutic approach in NSCLC treatment.

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