Fenretinide [N -(4-hydroxyphenyl)-retinamide (4HPR)] is a synthetic retinoid with antitumor activity that induces apoptosis in various types of cancer cell. We showed previously that 4HPR upregulates the proapoptotic gene placental bone morphogenetic protein (PLAB), which is a mediator of 4HPR-induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. Here, we investigated the signaling cascade involving PLAB that mediates the apoptotic effect. In 4HPR-sensitive ovarian cancer cells, 4HPR-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in PLAB upregulation and apoptosis, both events abrogated by the antioxidants vitamin C and butylated hydroxyanisole. We analyzed the expression and activation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-associated molecules and show that 4HPR-induced ER stress is a consequence of ROS generation. Salubrinal, an ER stress inhibitor, abrogated 4HPR-induced PLAB upregulation and protected the cells from apoptosis. Downstream of ROS generation and ER stress, 4HPR activated c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), which was inhibited by vitamin C and salubrinal. The JNK inhibitor SP600125 reduced 4HPR-induced PLAB upregulation, by decreasing PLAB mRNA half-life, and protected the cells from apoptosis. These data indicate that 4HPR-induced PLAB upregulation occurs downstream of a signaling cascade involving ROS generation, ER stress induction and JNK activation and that these steps are mediators of 4HPR-induced apoptosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research