Psoralens (5-MOP and 8-MOP), a class of naturally occurring compounds, in combination with ultraviolect light are potent modulators of epidermal cell growth and differentiation. For a long time, photo-chemotherapy has been used in the treatment of psoriasis where it can reduce the number of cycling keratinocytes and decrease the IGF-1 receptors. However, the molecular mechanism of PUVA therapy remains unclear. In this study, we have evaluated, for the first time, in MCF-7 and SKBR-3 breast cancer cells the effects of 5-MOP (Bergapten), independently of its photoactivation, on the signalling pathways involved in cell cycle arrest and in apoptosis. Drug treatment induced a block in the G0/G1 phase and increased mRNA and protein levels of p53 and p21waf. These data correlate with a functional activation of caspase 8/caspase 9 together with DAPI staining and DNA ladder. Bergapten can transactivate p53 gene promoter in these cells and site-direct mutagenesis studies showed that the binding sequence of the nuclear factor NF-Y on p53 promoter is required for 5-MOP responsiveness. Besides, Bergapten increases NF-Y nuclear translocation through p38 MAPK activation. The same treatment impairs the PI3Kinase/AKT survival signal, in hormone-dependent MCF-7 cells even in the presence of IGF-I/E2 mitogenic factors. Here, we demonstrated that Bergapten, independently on the exposure to UV, generates membrane signalling pathways able to address apoptotic responses in breast cancer cells and to counteract the stimulatory effect of IGF-I/E2 on estrogenreceptor positive MCF-7 cell growth and progression.
Keywords: Bergapten, apoptosis, p53, p21, MCF-7, SKBR-3, NFY, MAPK
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