Natural BH3 mimetic (-)-gossypol chemosensitizes human prostate cancer via Bcl-xL inhibition accompanied by increase of Puma and Noxa

Yang Meng, Wenhua Tang, Yao Dai, Xiaoqing Wu, Meilan Liu, Qing Ji, Min Ji, Kenneth Pienta, Theodore Lawrence, Liang Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family proteins are overexpressed in prostate cancer and are promising molecular targets for modulating chemoresistance of prostate cancer. (-)-Gossypol, a natural BH3 mimetic, is a small-molecule inhibitor of Bcl-2/Bcl-xL/Mcl-1 currently in phase II clinical trials as an adjuvant therapy for human prostate cancer. Our objective is to examine the chemosensitization potential of (-)-gossypol in prostate cancer and its molecular mechanisms of action. (-)-Gossypol inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis through mitochondria pathway in human prostate cancer PC-3 cells and synergistically enhanced the antitumor activity of docetaxel both in vitro and in vivo in PC-3 xenograft model in nude mouse. (-)-Gossypol blocked the interactions of Bcl-xL with Bax or Bad in cancer cells by fluorescence resonance energy transfer assay and overcame the Bcl-xL protection of FL5.12 model cells on interleukin-3 withdrawal. Western blot and real-time PCR studies showed that a dose-dependent increase of the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins Noxa and Puma contributed to the cell death induced by (-)-gossypol and to the synergistic effects of (-)-gossypol and docetaxel. The small interfering RNA knockdown studies showed that Noxa and Puma are required in the (-)-gossypol-induced cell death. Taken together, these data suggest that (-)-gossypol exerts its antitumor activity through inhibition of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL accompanied by an increase of proapoptotic Noxa and Puma. (-)-Gossypol significantly enhances the antitumor activity of chemotherapy in vitro and in vivo, representing a promising new regime for the treatment of human hormone-refractory prostate cancer with Bcl-2/Bcl-xL/Mcl-1 overexpression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2192-2202
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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