Polycomb group (PcG) protein BMI1 is an important regulator of oncogenic phenotype and is often overexpressed in several human malignancies including breast cancer. Aberrant expression of BMI1 is associated with metastasis and poor prognosis in cancer patients. At present, therapy reagents that can efficiently inhibit the expression of BMI1 are not very well known. Here, we report that Timosaponin A-III (TA-III), a steroidal saponin obtained from the rhizomes of an herb, Anemarrhena asphodeloides, strongly inhibits expression of BMI1 in breast cancer cells. Treatment of breast cancer cells with TA-III resulted in inhibition of oncogenic phenotypes such as proliferation, migration and invasion, and induction of cellular senescence. Inhibition of these oncogenic phenotypes was accompanied by downregulation of BMI1 expression and histone posttranslational modification activity of PRC1. The mechanistic analysis of TA-III-induced inhibition of oncogenic activity and BMI1 expression suggests that downregulation of c-Myc mediates TA-III effect on BMI1. We further show that exogenous BMI1 overexpression can overcome TA-III-induced inhibition of oncogenic phenotypes. We also show that TA-III induces expression of tumor suppressive miR-200c and miR-141, which are negatively regulated by BMI1. In summary, our data suggest that TA-III is a potent inhibitor of BMI1 and that it can be successfully used to inhibit the growth of tumors where PcG protein BMI1 and PcG activities are upregulated.
Keywords: BMI1; Timosaponin A-III; breast cancer; cellular senescence; miR-141; miR-200c; polycomb group proteins; tumor suppressors.
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.