Aim: Thymoquinone (TQ), the predominant bioactive constituent of black seed oil (Nigella Sativa), has been shown to possess antineoplastic activity against multifarious tumors. However, the meticulous mechanism of TQ on Akt mediated survival pathway is still unrevealed in breast cancer. Here, we investigated TQ's mechanism of action against PI3K/Akt signaling and its downstream targets by modulating proteins translational machinery, leading to apoptosis in cancer cells.
Main methods: MDA-MB-468 and T-47D cells were treated with TQ and evaluated for its anticancer activity through phase distribution and western blot. Modulatory effects of TQ on Akt were affirmed through kinase and drug potential studies.
Key findings: Studies revealed G1 phase arrest till 24h incubation with TQ while extended exposure showed phase shift to subG1 indicating apoptosis, supported by suppression of cyclin D1, cyclin E and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p27 expression. Immunoblot and membrane potential studies revealed mitochondrial impairment behind apoptotic process with upregulation of Bax, cytoplasmic cytochrome c and procaspase-3, PARP cleavage along with Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and survivin downregulation. Moreover, we construed the rationale behind mitochondrial dysfunction by examining the phosphorylation status of PDK1, PTEN, Akt, c-raf, GSK-3β and Bad in TQ treated cells, thus ratifying the involvement of Akt in apoptosis. Further, the consequential effect of Akt inhibition by TQ is proven by translational repression through deregulated phosphorylation of 4E-BP1, eIF4E, S6R and p70S6K.
Significance: Our observations for the first time may provide a new insight for the development of novel therapies for Akt overexpressed breast cancer by TQ.
Keywords: Cyclin D1; G(1) phase arrest; PI3K/Akt signaling pathway; Thymoquinone; Thymoquinone (PubChem CID: 10281); Translational proteins.