Allyl isothiocyanate arrests cancer cells in mitosis, and mitotic arrest in turn leads to apoptosis via Bcl-2 protein phosphorylation.
Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) occurs in many commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables and exhibits significant anti-cancer activities. Available data suggest that it is particularly promising for bladder cancer prevention and/or treatment. Here, we show that AITC arrests human bladder cancer cells in mitosis and also induces apoptosis. Mitotic arrest by AITC was associated with increased ubiquitination and degradation of α- and β-tubulin. AITC directly binds to multiple cysteine residues of the tubulins. AITC induced mitochondrion-mediated apoptosis, as shown by cytochrome c release from mitochondria to cytoplasm, activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3, and formation of TUNEL-positive cells. Inhibition of caspase-9 blocked AITC-induced apoptosis. Moreover, we found that apoptosis induction by AITC depended entirely on mitotic arrest and was mediated via Bcl-2 phosphorylation at Ser-70. Pre-arresting cells in G(1) phase by hydroxyurea abrogated both AITC-induced mitotic arrest and Bcl-2 phosphorylation. Overexpression of a Bcl-2 mutant prevented AITC from inducing apoptosis. We further showed that AITC-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation was caused by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and AITC activates JNK. Taken together, this study has revealed a novel anticancer mechanism of a phytochemical that is commonly present in human diet.
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