A novel microtubule-modulating agent induces mitochondrially driven caspase-dependent apoptosis via mitotic checkpoint activation in human prostate cancer cells

Eur J Cancer. 2010 Jun;46(9):1668-78. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.02.017. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Hormone-refractory prostate cancer, its skeletal metastasis and complications remain a therapeutic challenge. Here we show that treatment with (S)-3-((R)-9-bromo-4-methoxy-6-methyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-[1,3]dioxolo[4,5-g]isoquinolin-5-yl)-6,7-dimethoxyiso-benzofuran-1(3H)-one (EM011), the brominated analogue of a plant-derived non-toxic antitussive alkaloid, noscapine, achieved significant inhibition of hormone-refractory human prostate cancer implanted intratibially in the bone as shown by non-invasive, real-time bioluminescent imaging of tumour growth in nude mice. Mechanistically, in vitro data suggested that the antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects of EM011 in human prostate cancer cell lines were through blockade of cell-cycle progression by impairing the formation of a bipolar spindle apparatus. The G2/M arrest was accompanied by activation of the mitotic checkpoint, a pre-requisite for induction of optimal apoptosis. Attenuation of mitotic checkpoint by siRNA duplexes led to a reduction in mitotic arrest and subsequent apoptosis. Our results further demonstrated participation of an intrinsic mitochondrially mediated apoptotic pathway that ultimately triggered caspase-driven EM011-induced apoptosis. EM011 did not exert any detectable toxicity in normal tissues with frequently dividing cells such as the gut and bone marrow. Thus, these data warrant further evaluation of EM011 for the management of prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dioxoles / pharmacology*
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tubulin Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays / methods


  • Dioxoles
  • EM011 compound
  • Isoquinolines
  • Tubulin Modulators
  • Caspase 3