Cancer and cancer stem cell targeting agents : A focus on salinomycin and apoptin

Sammanfattning: Current cancer treatments involving surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy target the vast majority of cancer cells, but they are only partially effective in eliminating the disease. Failure to eliminate cancer with conventional treatments can lead to recurrence, which usually kills patient. This often occurs when cancer cells develop resistance to cancer drugs or when cancer-initiating cells (cancer stem cells), unaffected by existing treatment procedures, are present. Here, we studied two drugs, salinomycin and apoptin, that exhibit great potential in the future of cancer treatment not only for restricting malignancy, but also in preventing tumor recurrence. Salinomycin is an antibiotic that was used in poultry farming that is now used clinically to target cancer stem cells, and apoptin is a chicken anemia virus-derived protein that is capable of detecting and killing transformed cells. In this study, we delved into the molecular mechanism of salinomycin action leading to cancer cell death. We showed that salinomycin induces autophagy in both cancer and normal primary cells. We further demonstrated that salinomycin promotes mitochondrial fission, thus increasing mitochondrial mass and mitochondria-specific autophagy, mitophagy. Salinomycin-induced cell death was both necrotic and apoptotic as determined by increased release of HMGB1 and caspase-3, -8 and -9 activation. We also found that stress responses of normal and cancer cells to salinomycin differ and this difference is aggravated by starvation conditions. We proposed that a combinational treatment with glucose starvation, or glucose analogues such as 2DG or 2FDG, might enhance the effects of salinomycin on cancer cells while protecting normal cells. We previously reported that apoptin interacts with BCRABL1, a protein that is expressed in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). We located a minimal region on the apoptin protein that triggers inhibition of downstream BCR-ABL1 signaling effects. This deca-peptide region was tested on patient samples and was shown to effectively kill cancer cells derived from patients, similar to the drug Imatinib. We further show that the apoptin decapeptide is cytotoxic to Imatinib-resistant patient-derived cancer cells. Thus, we identified a novel therapeutic targeting agent that can not only overcome drug resistance, but it can also induce cancer cell death without affecting normal cells.