Apigenin shows synergistic anticancer activity with curcumin by binding at different sites of tubulin

Biochimie. 2013 Jun;95(6):1297-309. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2013.02.010. Epub  2013 Feb 26.
Apigenin shows synergistic anticancer activity with curcumin by binding at different sites of tubulin.
Choudhury D, Ganguli A, Dastidar DG, Acharya BR, Das A, Chakrabarti G.

Department of Biotechnology and Dr. B.C. Guha Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Calcutta, 35 Ballygunge Circular Road, Kolkata 700019, West Bengal, India.


Apigenin, a natural flavone, present in many plants sources, induced apoptosis and cell death in lung epithelium cancer (A549) cells with an IC50 value of 93.7 ± 3.7 μM for 48 h treatment. Target identification investigations using A549 cells and also in cell-free system demonstrated that apigenin depolymerized microtubules and inhibited reassembly of cold depolymerized microtubules of A549 cells. Again apigenin inhibited polymerization of purified tubulin with an IC50 value of 79.8 ± 2.4 μM. It bounds to tubulin in cell-free system and quenched the intrinsic fluorescence of tubulin in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. The interaction was temperature-dependent and kinetics of binding was biphasic in nature with binding rate constants of 11.5 × 10(-7) M(-1) s(-1) and 4.0 × 10(-9) M(-1) s(-1) for fast and slow phases at 37 °C, respectively. The stoichiometry of tubulin-apigenin binding was 1:1 and binding the binding constant (Kd) was 6.08 ± 0.096 μM. Interestingly, apigenin showed synergistic anti-cancer effect with another natural anti-tubulin agent curcumin. Apigenin and curcumin synergistically induced cell death and apoptosis and also blocked cell cycle progression at G2/M phase of A549 cells. The synergistic activity of apigenin and curcumin was also apparent from their strong depolymerizing effects on interphase microtubules and inhibitory effect of reassembly of cold depolymerized microtubules when used in combinations, indicating that these ligands bind to tubulin at different sites. In silico modeling suggested apigenin bounds at the interphase of α-β-subunit of tubulin. The binding site is 19 Å in distance from the previously predicted curcumin binding site. Binding studies with purified protein also showed both apigenin and curcumin can simultaneously bind to purified tubulin. Understanding the mechanism of synergistic effect of apigenin and curcumin could be helped to develop anti-cancer combination drugs from cheap and readily available nutraceuticals.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

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