Gossypol acetic acid regulates leukemia stem cells by degrading LRPPRC via inhibiting IL-6/JAK1/STAT3 signaling or resulting mitochondrial dysfunction

World J Stem Cells. 2024 Apr 26;16(4):444-458. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v16.i4.444.


Background: Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are found to be one of the main factors contributing to poor therapeutic effects in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as they are protected by the bone marrow microenvironment (BMM) against conventional therapies. Gossypol acetic acid (GAA), which is extracted from the seeds of cotton plants, exerts anti-tumor roles in several types of cancer and has been reported to induce apoptosis of LSCs by inhibiting Bcl2.

Aim: To investigate the exact roles of GAA in regulating LSCs under different microenvironments and the exact mechanism.

Methods: In this study, LSCs were magnetically sorted from AML cell lines and the CD34+CD38- population was obtained. The expression of leucine-rich pentatricopeptide repeat-containing protein (LRPPRC) and forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) was evaluated in LSCs, and the effects of GAA on malignancies and mitochondrial function were measured.

Results: LRPPRC was found to be upregulated, and GAA inhibited cell proliferation by degrading LRPPRC. GAA induced LRPPRC degradation and inhibited the activation of interleukin 6 (IL-6)/janus kinase (JAK) 1/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 signaling, enhancing chemosensitivity in LSCs against conventional chemotherapies, including L-Asparaginase, Dexamethasone, and cytarabine. GAA was also found to downregulate FOXM1 indirectly by regulating LRPPRC. Furthermore, GAA induced reactive oxygen species accumulation, disturbed mitochondrial homeostasis, and caused mitochondrial dysfunction. By inhibiting IL-6/JAK1/STAT3 signaling via degrading LRPPRC, GAA resulted in the elimination of LSCs. Meanwhile, GAA induced oxidative stress and subsequent cell damage by causing mitochondrial damage.

Conclusion: Taken together, the results indicate that GAA might overcome the BMM protective effect and be considered as a novel and effective combination therapy for AML.

Keywords: Gossypol acetic acid; Interleukin 6/janus kinase 1/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 signaling; Leukemia stem cells; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Reactive oxygen species.