Activation of the insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling pathway by the antiapoptotic agents aurintricarboxylic acid and evans blue

Endocrinology. 2001 Jul;142(7):3098-107. doi: 10.1210/endo.142.7.8265.


Aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA), an endonuclease inhibitor, prevents the death of a variety of cell types in culture. Previously we have shown that ATA, similar to insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), protected MCF-7 cells against apoptotic death induced by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. Here we show that ATA and a polysulfonated aromatic compound, Evans blue (EB), similar to IGF-I, promote survival and increase proliferation of MCF-7 cells in serum-free culture medium. This may suggest a common signaling pathway shared by the aromatic polyanions and IGF-I. Therefore, the ability of these aromatic compounds to activate the signal transduction pathway of IGF-I was examined. We found that ATA and EB mimicked the IGF-I effect on tyrosine phosphorylation of the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) and its major substrates, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and IRS-2; induced the association of these substrates with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and Grb2; and activated Akt kinase and p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinases. ATA and EB competed for IGF-I binding to the IGF-IR. ATA was found to be selective for the IGF-IR, whereas EB also activated the insulin receptor. Upon fractionation of commercial ATA by size exclusion chromatography, we found that fractions that enhanced the intensity of tyrosyl-phosphorylated IRS-1/IRS-2 also increased the survival of MCF-7 cells in the presence of cycloheximide, whereas fractions devoid of IRS phosphorylation activity had no survival ability. Taken together, these results suggest that the survival/proliferation-promoting effects of ATA and EB in MCF-7 cells are transduced via the IGF-IR signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Aurintricarboxylic Acid / metabolism
  • Aurintricarboxylic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Evans Blue / metabolism
  • Evans Blue / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / physiology
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • IRS1 protein, human
  • IRS2 protein, human
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Irs1 protein, mouse
  • Irs2 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tyrosine
  • Aurintricarboxylic Acid
  • Evans Blue
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases