Cell Death Dis 2019 Mar 8;10(3):232. Epub 2019 Mar 8.
College of Pharmacy, Jinan University, 510632, Guangzhou, China.
Betulinic acid (BA) and its derivatives are a class of high-profile drug candidates, but their anticancer effects on resistant cancer have rarely been reported. Although a few studies indicated mitophagy is related with drug resistance, its role in different cancer types and anticancer agents treatment remains largely unclear. Here, we find that B5G1, a new derivative of BA, induces cell death in multidrug resistant cancer cells HepG2/ADM and MCF-7/ADR through mitochondrial-apoptosis pathway. B5G1 also triggers mitophagy independent on Atg5/Beclin 1. Further mechanistic study indicates that B5G1 upregulates PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) to recruit Parkin to mitochondria followed by ubiquitination of Mfn2 to initiate mitophagy. Inhibition of mitophagy by PINK1 siRNA, mdivi-1, or bafilomycin A1 (Baf A1) promotes B5G1-induced cell death. In addition, ROS production and mitochondrial damage in B5G1-treated HepG2/ADM cells cause mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy. In vivo study shown that B5G1 dramatically inhibits HepG2/ADM xenograft growth accompanied by apoptosis and mitophagy induction. Together, our results provide the first demonstration that B5G1, as a novel mitophagy inducer, has the potential to be developed into a drug candidate for treating multidrug resistant cancer.