Research Papers:

Release of Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum and its subsequent influx into mitochondria trigger celastrol-induced paraptosis in cancer cells

Mi Jin Yoon, A Reum Lee, Soo Ah Jeong, You-Sun Kim, Jin Yeop Kim, Yong-Jun Kwon and Kyeong Sook Choi _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:6816-6831. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2256

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Mi Jin Yoon1,*, A Reum Lee1,*, Soo Ah Jeong1, You-Sun Kim1, Jin Yeop Kim1,2 , Yong-Jun Kwon2 and Kyeong Sook Choi1

1 Department of Biochemistry, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon , Korea

2 Discovery Biology Group, Institut Pasteur Korea, Sampyeong-dong 696, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do , South Korea

* These authors contributed equally to this work


Kyeong Sook Choi, email:

Keywords: paraptosis, celastrol, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, Ca2+

Received: June 05, 2014 Accepted: July 24, 2014 Published: July 25, 2014


Celastrol, a triterpene extracted from the Chinese “Thunder of God Vine”, is known to have anticancer activity, but its underlying mechanism is not completely understood. In this study, we show that celastrol kills several breast and colon cancer cell lines by induction of paraptosis, a cell death mode characterized by extensive vacuolization that arises via dilation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. Celastrol treatment markedly increased mitochondrial Ca2+ levels and induced ER stress via proteasome inhibition in these cells. Both MCU (mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter) knockdown and pretreatment with ruthenium red, an inhibitor of MCU, inhibited celastrol-induced mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, dilation of mitochondria/ER, accumulation of poly-ubiquitinated proteins, and cell death in MDA-MB 435S cells. Inhibition of the IP3 receptor (IP3R) with 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB) also effectively blocked celastrol-induced mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation and subsequent paraptotic events. Collectively, our results show that the IP3R-mediated release of Ca2+ from the ER and its subsequent MCU-mediatedinflux into mitochondria critically contribute to celastrol-induced paraptosis in cancer cells.

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