Diallyl trisulfide-induced apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells involves c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular-signal regulated kinase-mediated phosphorylation of Bcl-2

Oncogene. 2004 Jul 22;23(33):5594-606. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207747.


Garlic-derived organosulfides (OSCs) including diallyl trisulfide (DATS) are highly effective in affording protection against chemically induced cancer in animals. Evidence is also mounting to indicate that some naturally occurring OSCs can suppress proliferation of cancer cells by causing apoptosis, but the sequence of events leading to proapoptotic effect of OSCs is poorly defined. Using PC-3 and DU145 human prostate cancer cells as a model, we now demonstrate that DATS is a significantly more potent apoptosis inducer than diallyl sulfide (DAS) or diallyl disulfide (DADS). DATS-induced apoptosis in PC-3 cells was associated with phosphorylation of Bcl-2, reduced Bcl-2 : Bax interaction, and cleavage of procaspase-9 and -3. Bcl-2 overexpressing PC-3 cells were significantly more resistant to apoptosis induction by DATS compared with vector-transfected control cells. DATS treatment resulted in activation of extracellular-signal regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and c-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and/or JNK2, but not p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Phosphorylation of Bcl-2 in DATS-treated PC-3 cells was fully blocked in the presence of JNK-specific inhibitor SP600125. Moreover, JNK inhibitor afforded significant protection against DATS-induced apoptosis in both cells. DATS-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation and apoptosis were partially attenuated by pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 using PD98059 or U0126. Overexpression of catalase inhibited DATS-mediated activation of JNK1/2, but not ERK1/2, and apoptosis induction in DU145 cells suggesting involvement of hydrogen peroxide as a second messenger in DATS-induced apoptosis. In conclusion, our data point towards important roles for Bcl-2, JNK and ERK in DATS-induced apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allyl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Catalase / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Sulfides / pharmacology*


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Sulfides
  • diallyl trisulfide
  • Catalase
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases