Research Papers:

Ginkgolic acids inhibit migration in breast cancer cells by inhibition of NEMO sumoylation and NF-κB activity

Sami Hamdoun and Thomas Efferth _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:35103-35115. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16626

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Sami Hamdoun1 and Thomas Efferth1

1Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany

Correspondence to:

Thomas Efferth, email: [email protected]

Keywords: breast cancer, ginkgo biloba, NEMO, NF-κB, sumoylation

Received: November 15, 2016     Accepted: March 03, 2017     Published: March 28, 2017


Ginkgolic acids (GA), a group of alkyl phenols found in crude extracts of Ginkgo biloba leaves, are known to have anticancer activity, but their mode of action is not well understood. Our aim in this study was to investigate the anti-migratory activity of seven GA against breast cancer cells and to determine the molecular mechanism behind this activity. All seven GA and their mixture inhibited wound healing in MCF-7 and MDA-MB 231 breast cancer cells. None of the compounds nor the mixture showed cytotoxicity towards the two cell lines, if tested by the resazurin assay. C13:0 inhibited NF-κB activity in the HEK Blue Null 1 reporter cell line. Furthermore, C13:0 inhibited degradation of nuclear factor of κ-light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells inhibitor α (IκBα). Sumoylation assay revealed that GA inhibited sumoylation of NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO). Molecular docking on SUMO-activating enzyme E1 showed that the seven GA bound to the active adenylation site with high calculated affinities ranging from -10.28 to -12.27 kcal/mol. Quantitative RT-PCR using C15:0, C13:0 and the mixture showed a significant down-regulation of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9). We conclude that GA revealed considerable anti-migratory activity at non-cytotoxic concentrations, indicating anti-metastatic activity with low toxicity. This effect can be explained by the inhibition of NEMO sumoylation leading to inhibition of IκBα degradation and consequently a reduction of NF-κB activity, leading to the down-regulation of metastasis related genes including uPA, PAI-1, CXCR4, and MMP-9.

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