Autophagic flux disruption contributes to Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide-induced apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells via MAPK/ERK activation

Cell Death Dis. 2019 Jun 11;10(6):456. doi: 10.1038/s41419-019-1653-7.


Targeting autophagy may serve as a promising strategy for cancer therapy. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide (GLP) has been shown to exert promising anti-cancer effects. However, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Whether GLP regulates autophagy in cancer has never been reported. In this study, GLP induced the initiation of autophagy in colorectal cancer (CRC) HT-29 and HCT116 cells, as evidenced by enhanced level of LC3-II protein, GFP-LC3 puncta, and increased formation of double membrane vacuoles. However, GLP treatment caused marked increase of p62 expression. Addition of late stage autophagy inhibitor, chloroquine (CQ), further enhanced LC3-II and p62 level, as well as increased autophagosome accumulation, suggesting a blockage of autophagic flux by GLP in CRC cells. We then found GLP blocked autophagosome and lysosome fusion as determined by mRFP-GFP-LC3 colocalization analysis. Mechanistic study revealed that GLP-induced disruption of autophagosome-lysosome fusion is due to reduced lysosome acidification and lysosomal cathepsin activities. Cell viability and flow cytometry assays revealed that GLP-induced autophagosome accumulation is responsible for GLP-induced apoptosis in CRC cells. In line with this, inhibition of autophagy initiation by 3-methyladenine (3-MA), an early stage autophagy inhibitor, attenuated GLP-induced apoptosis. In contrast, suppression of autophagy at late stage by CQ enhanced the anti-cancer effect of GLP. Furthermore, we demonstrated that GLP-induced autophagosome accumulation and apoptosis is mediated via MAPK/ERK activation. Finally, GLP inhibited tumor growth and also inhibited autophagic flux in vivo. These results unveil new molecular mechanism underlying anti-cancer effects of GLP, suggesting that GLP is a potent autophagy inhibitor and might be useful in anticancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Autophagosomes / drug effects
  • Autophagosomes / metabolism*
  • Autophagosomes / ultrastructure
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • HCT116 Cells
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / drug effects
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Reishi* / metabolism
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Map1lc3b protein, mouse
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • P62 protein, human
  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Chloroquine
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases