Proscillaridin A exerts anti-tumor effects through GSK3β activation and alteration of microtubule dynamics in glioblastoma

Cell Death Dis. 2018 Sep 24;9(10):984. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-1018-7.


Glioblastoma (GBM) is characterized by highly aggressive growth and invasive behavior. Due to the highly lethal nature of GBM, new therapies are urgently needed and repositioning of existing drugs is a promising approach. We have previously shown the activity of Proscillaridin A (ProA), a cardiac glycoside inhibitor of the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase (NKA) pump, against proliferation and migration of GBM cell lines. ProA inhibited tumor growth in vivo and increased mice survival after orthotopic grafting of GBM cells. This study aims to decipher the mechanism of action of ProA in GBM tumor and stem-like cells. ProA displayed cytotoxic activity on tumor and stem-like cells grown in 2D and 3D culture, but not on healthy cells as astrocytes or oligodendrocytes. Even at sub-cytotoxic concentration, ProA impaired cell migration and disturbed EB1 accumulation at microtubule (MT) plus-ends and MT dynamics instability. ProA activates GSK3β downstream of NKA inhibition, leading to EB1 phosphorylation on S155 and T166, EB1 comet length shortening and MT dynamics alteration, and finally inhibition of cell migration and cytotoxicity. Similar results were observed with digoxin. Therefore, we disclosed here a novel pathway by which ProA and digoxin modulate MT-governed functions in GBM tumor and stem-like cells. Altogether, our results support ProA and digoxin as potent candidates for drug repositioning in GBM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ion Pumps / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Polymerization / drug effects
  • Proscillaridin / pharmacology*
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Ion Pumps
  • MAPRE1 protein, human
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Proscillaridin