Withania somnifera L. Dunal (Ashwagandha) is used over centuries in the ayurvedic medicines in India. Withaferin A, a withanolide, is the major compound present in leaf extract of the plant which shows anticancer activity against leukemia, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. It arrests the ovarian cancer cells in the G2/M phase in dose dependent manner. In the current study we show the effect of Withaferin A on cell cycle regulation of colorectal cancer cell lines HCT116 and SW480 and its effect on cell fate. Treatment of these cells with this compound leads to apoptosis in a dose dependent manner. It causes the G2/M arrest in both the cell lines. We show that Withaferin A (WA) causes mitotic delay by blocking Spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) function. Apoptosis induced by Withaferin A is associated with proteasomal degradation of Mad2 and Cdc20, an important constituent of the Spindle Checkpoint Complex. Further overexpression of Mad2 partially rescues the deleterious effect of WA by restoring proper anaphase initiation and keeping more number of cells viable. We hypothesize that Withaferin A kills cancer cells by delaying the mitotic exit followed by inducing chromosome instability.
Keywords: Cdc20; Chromosome instability; Mad2; Spindle assembly checkpoint; Withaferin A.
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