Research Papers:

Ciclopirox induces autophagy through reactive oxygen species-mediated activation of JNK signaling pathway

Hongyu Zhou _, Tao Shen, Chaowei Shang, Yan Luo, Lei Liu, Juming Yan, Yan Li and Shile Huang

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:10140-10150. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2471

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Hongyu Zhou1,2, Tao Shen2, Chaowei Shang2, Yan Luo2, Lei Liu2, Juming Yan1, Yan Li1, Shile Huang2,3

1 State Key Laboratory of Phytochemistry and Plant Resources in West China, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA 71130-3932, USA

3 Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA 71130-3932, USA

Correspondence to:

Shile Huang, e-mail: [email protected]

Yan Li, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: Ciclopirox, autophagy, rhabdomyosarcoma, reactive oxygen species, JNK

Received: August 11, 2014     Accepted: September 06, 2014     Published: October 04, 2014


Ciclopirox olamine (CPX), a fungicide, has been demonstrated as a potential anticancer agent. However, the underlying anticancer mechanism is not well understood. Here, we found that CPX induced autophagy in human rhabdomyosarcoma (Rh30 and RD) cells. It appeared that CPX-induced autophagy was attributed to induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), as N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), a ROS scavenger and antioxidant, prevented this process. Furthermore, we observed that CPX induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), including extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 MAPK, which was also blocked by NAC. However, only inhibition of JNK (with SP600125) or expression of dominant negative c-Jun partially prevented CPX-induced autophagy, indicating that ROS-mediated activation of JNK signaling pathway contributed to CPX-induced autophagy. Of interest, inhibition of autophagy by chloroquine (CQ) enhanced CPX-induced cell death, indicating that CPX-induced autophagy plays a pro-survival role in human rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Our finding suggests that the combination with autophagy inhibitors may be a novel strategy in potentiating the anticancer activity of CPX for treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma.

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