Exopolysaccharide from Cryptococcus heimaeyensis S20 induces autophagic cell death in non-small cell lung cancer cells via ROS/p38 and ROS/ERK signalling

Lung Cancer

Hao Y, et al. Cell Prolif 2020.


OBJECTIVES: Cryptococcus heimaeyensis S20 is found in Antarctica and can produce exopolysaccharides (CHEPS). Here, we explore the anti-tumour effects of CHEPS on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cell viability was assessed by CCK8 and colony formation assays. Flow cytometry was used to analyse the cell cycle, cell apoptosis and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cell autophagy was detected by EGFP-LC3 puncta assay, Lyso-Tracker Red staining and transmission electron microscopy. mRNA and protein levels were analysed by qRT-PCR and Western blot. Related mechanisms were confirmed using appropriate inhibitors or shRNA. In vitro results were further confirmed by a tumour xenograft study.

RESULTS: CHEPS inhibited the proliferation of NSCLC cells by inducing S- and G2/M-phase arrest and autophagic cell death, but not apoptosis. CHEPS was less toxic to normal human embryonic lung fibroblasts. CHEPS activated the MAPK pathway in NSCLC cells, and p38 and ERK promoted CHEPS-induced cell death. Further studies showed that p38 and ERK promoted CHEPS-induced NSCLC cell autophagy and ERK promoted CHEPS-induced S- and G2/M-phase arrest. ROS were induced by CHEPS. A ROS scavenger attenuated CHEPS-induced p38 and ERK activation, autophagy and cell death. Finally, CHEPS reduced orthotopic lung tumour growth without organ-related toxicity. CHEPS also induced ROS, activated p38 and ERK, and triggered autophagy in vivo.

CONCLUSIONS: CHEPS induces autophagic cell death and S- and G2/M-phase arrest in NSCLC cells via ROS/p38 and ROS/ERK signalling.