Research Papers:

Phenylethyl isothiocyanate reverses cisplatin resistance in biliary tract cancer cells via glutathionylation-dependent degradation of Mcl-1

Qiwei Li, Ming Zhan, Wei Chen, Benpeng Zhao, Kai Yang, Jie Yang, Jing Yi, Qihong Huang, Man Mohan, Zhaoyuan Hou and Jian Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:10271-10282. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7171

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Qiwei Li1, Ming Zhan1, Wei Chen1, Benpeng Zhao2, Kai Yang2, Jie Yang2, Jing Yi2, Qihong Huang3, Man Mohan2, Zhaoyuan Hou2, Jian Wang1

1Department of Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Tumor Microenvironment and Inflammation, Institutes of Medical Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

3The Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to:

Jian Wang, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: biliary tract cancer, PEITC, cisplatin, Mcl-1, glutathionylation

Received: July 06, 2015     Accepted: January 21, 2016     Published: February 03, 2016


Biliary tract cancer (BTC) is a highly malignant cancer. BTC exhibits a low response rate to cisplatin (CDDP) treatment, and therefore, an understanding of the mechanism of CDDP resistance is urgently needed. Here, we show that BTC cells develop CDDP resistance due, in part, to upregulation of myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1). Phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a natural compound found in watercress, could enhance the efficacy of CDDP by degrading Mcl-1. PEITC-CDDP co-treatment also increased the rate of apoptosis of cancer stem-like side population (SP) cells and inhibited xenograft tumor growth without obvious toxic effects. In vitro, PEITC decreased reduced glutathione (GSH), which resulted in decreased GSH/oxidized glutathione (GSSG) ratio and increased glutathionylation of Mcl-1, leading to rapid proteasomal degradation of Mcl-1. Furthermore, we identified Cys16 and Cys286 as Mcl-1 glutathionylation sites, and mutating them resulted in PEITC-mediated degradation resistant Mcl-1 protein. In conclusion, we demonstrate for the first time that CDDP resistance is partially associated with Mcl-1 in BTC cells and we identify a novel mechanism that PEITC can enhance CDDP-induced apoptosis via glutathionylation-dependent degradation of Mcl-1. Hence, our results provide support that dietary intake of watercress may help reverse CDDP resistance in BTC patients.

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