Gene Summary

Gene:BECN1; beclin 1
Aliases: ATG6, VPS30, beclin1
Summary:This gene encodes a protein that regulates autophagy, a catabolic process of degradation induced by starvation. The encoded protein is a component of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) complex which mediates vesicle-trafficking processes. This protein is thought to play a role in multiple cellular processes, including tumorigenesis, neurodegeneration and apoptosis. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2015]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 30 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 30 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 30 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: BECN1 (cancer-related)

Zhang H, Luo C, Zhang G
DNA Cell Biol. 2019; 38(8):857-864 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been reported to be one of the major tumors in the world. There is a study indicating that MCM3AP-AS1 is an oncogenic factor in HCC; however, the mechanism by which MCM3AP-AS1 regulates HCC remains not fully understood. Reverse Transcription-quantitative PCR and Western blot approaches were used to detect mRNA and protein levels of various genes. To examine invasion of HCC cells and lymphatic vessel formation of human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (HDLECs), we employed transwell invasion assay and lymphatic vessel assay. Bioinformatic analysis and luciferase reporter assay were used to establish direct interactions between MCM3AP-AS1 and miR-455. Besides, The Cancer Genome Atlas analyses of HCCs were performed to determine the association of MCM3AP-AS1 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with overall survival. MCM3AP-AS1 knockdown impaired invasion of HCC cells and lymphatic vessel formation of HDLECs. MCM3AP-AS1 directly interacted with miR-455. Furthermore, miR-455 inhibitor-transfected HepG2 cells enhanced the invasion and lymphatic vessel formation abilities. The rescue experiments indicated that EGFR was critical for MCM3AP-AS1- and miR-455-regulated invasion and lymphatic vessel formation. More interestingly, autophagy-related genes (Beclin1, LC3 II/I, and ATG7) were abnormally regulated in miR-455 mimic or inhibitor HepG2 cells. miR-455 mimic inhibited cell invasion and lymphatic vessel formation, which was evidently abrogated by ATG7 overexpression. Finally, we analyzed The Cancer Genome Atlas data sets to test the upregulated expression levels of MCM3AP-AS1 and EGFR. In addition, the results showed that low levels of both genes facilitate survival of HCC patients. In this study, we reveal a novel mechanism underlying MCM3AP-AS1-induced HCC metastasis by regulating miR-455. The conclusions provide more insights into understanding mechanism underlying HCC and help development of therapeutical approaches for treating HCC.

Zhu H, Gan X, Jiang X, et al.
ALKBH5 inhibited autophagy of epithelial ovarian cancer through miR-7 and BCL-2.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2019; 38(1):163 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: ALKBH5 regulated the malignant behavior of breast cancer and glioblastoma. However, the expression and function of ALKBH5 in epithelial ovarian cancer have not yet been determined. In the present study, we investigated the expression and function of ALKBH5 in epithelial ovarian cancer with respect to its potential role in the tumorigenesis of the disease as well as an early diagnostic marker.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry and western blot were used to detect protein expression. Gene silencing and over-expression experiment were used to study gene function. Cell proliferation assay and Matrigel invasion assays were used to detect cell proliferation and invasion, respectively. The nude mouse tumor formation experiment was used to evaluate the growth of cells in vivo.
RESULTS: The expression of ALKBH5 was found to be increased in epithelial ovarian cancer tissue as compared to the normal ovarian tissues. The silencing of ALKBH5 in SKOV3 cells enhanced the autophagy and inhibited the proliferation and invasion in vitro and in vivo, whereas the ectopic expression of ALKBH5 in A2780 cells exerted an opposite effect. Mechanical study revealed that ALKBH5 physically interacted with HuR. ALKBH5 activated EGFR-PIK3CA-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway. Also, ALKBH5 enhanced the stability of BCL-2 mRNA and promoted the interaction between Bcl-2 and Beclin1.
CONCLUSION: Overall, the present study identified ALKBH5 as a candidate oncogene in epithelial ovarian cancer and a potential target for ovarian cancer therapy.

Li C, Ma L, Liu Y, et al.
TLR2 promotes development and progression of human glioma via enhancing autophagy.
Gene. 2019; 700:52-59 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: In this study, we aim to evaluate Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) expression in human glioma tumors and the correlation between its expression with degrees of malignancy and autophagy, development of tumors.
METHOD: Immunohistochemistry and Western blot were carried out to determine the expression of LC3, Beclin1 and TLR2 in 74 glioma specimens. We analyzed the prognosis of 551 glioma patients through the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). To determine the effect of TLR2 in glioma, we manipulated TLR2 expression using TLR2 plasmid transfer technique in U87 human glioma cell.
RESULTS: TLR2 expression in high-grade was significantly higher than that in low-grade glioma group (P < 0.05). TLR2 was positively correlated with tumor grade (P < 0.05). Spearman correlation showed that the expression of TLR2 was positively correlated with the numbers of LC3 and Beclin1 (P < 0.05). The patients with high TLR2 expression had a poorer outcome compared with the patients with low TLR2 in low-grade glioma (P < 0.05). TLR2 overexpression enhances glioma cell activity and accelerates cell cycle progression. In addition, treatment with TLR2 overexpression increases the conversion rate of LC3-I to LC3-II and enhances the level of phosphorylated p38.
CONCLUSION: TLR2 promotes development and progression of human glioma via enhancing autophagy.

Tang Y, Ren F, Cong X, et al.
Overexpression of ribonuclease inhibitor induces autophagy in human colorectal cancer cells via the Akt/mTOR/ULK1 pathway.
Mol Med Rep. 2019; 19(5):3519-3526 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Ribonuclease inhibitor (RI), also termed angiogenin inhibitor, acts as the inhibitor of ribonucleolytic activity of RNase A and angiogenin. The expression of RI has been investigated in melanoma and bladder cancer cells. However, the precise role of RI in tumorigenesis, in addition to RI‑induced autophagy, remains poorly understood. In the present study, it was demonstrated that RI positively regulated autophagy in human colorectal cancer (CRC) cells as indicated by an increase in light chain 3 (LC3)‑II levels. Furthermore, RI regulated cell survival in HT29 cells. In addition, autophagy‑associated proteins, including beclin‑1 and autophagy‑related protein 13, were increased in response to RI‑induced autophagy, and the protein kinase B (Akt)/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)/Unc‑51 like autophagy activating kinase (ULK1) pathway may be involved in the activation of autophagy induced by RI overexpression. Taken together, the evidence of the present study indicated that the overexpression of RI induced ATG‑dependent autophagy in CRC cells via the Akt/mTOR/ULK1 pathway, suggesting that the upregulation of RI activity may constitute a novel approach for the treatment of human colorectal carcinoma.

Quan M, Liu S, Zhou L, et al.
Hepatitis C virus nonstructural 5A protein inhibits the starvation‑induced apoptosis of hepatoblastoma cells by increasing Beclin 1 expression.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(5):3051-3059 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) modulates cellular apoptosis, which is involved in the occurrence and development of liver cancer. The mechanisms of apoptosis inhibition by NS5A in liver cancer cells remains unclear. Beclin 1, which functions upstream of autophagosome formation, is upregulated by NS5A. Autophagy, an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process, has a crucial role in tumor initiation and progression. Autophagy was blocked by inhibitors 3‑methyladenine and chloroquine, or via knockdown of Beclin 1. Flow cytometric analysis and western blotting were used to detect apoptosis. It was found that inhibition of autophagy attenuated the NS5A‑mediated apoptosis inhibition of HepG2 cells. Furthermore, it was confirmed that Beclin 1 expression by NS5A was involved in the negative regulation of starvation‑induced liver cancer apoptosis, which was accompanied by reduced p53 and apoptosis regulator Bax expression, as well as decreased caspase‑3/-7 activation. Therefore, inhibition of autophagy may be promising therapeutic strategy in the treatment of HCV‑associated liver cancer.

Yang L, Song L, Zhao S, et al.
Isobavachalcone reveals novel characteristics of methuosis-like cell death in leukemia cells.
Chem Biol Interact. 2019; 304:131-138 [PubMed] Related Publications
Non-apoptotic cell-death induction is a potential strategy for cancer treatment. Cytoplasmic vacuolation-associated cell death represents a novel type of non-apoptotic cell-death. Here, we showed that isobavachalcone (IBC), a naturally occurring chalcone compound, selectively induced cell death with massive cytoplasmic vacuolation in some leukemic cells but not in normal peripheral blood cells. Although the IBC-induced cell death displayed certain apoptotic changes, the caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK did not significantly suppress IBC-induced cell death. IBC-induced vacuoles are acidic in nature, as revealed by neutral red staining. However, these vacuoles could not be labeled by lysosome or mitochondrial trackers. Moreover, the knockdown of several autophagy-related genes, such as LC3, Beclin-1, and ATG7, did not inhibit IBC-induced vacuolation. Transmission electron microscope examination revealed that these vacuoles mainly derived from the endosome. Surprisingly, Vacuolar-type H + -ATPase inhibitors, weak bases, such as chloroquine and AKT inhibitors, markedly abrogated vacuolization but enhance IBC-induced cell death, suggesting that IBC-induced vacuolation and cell death go into different direction and the vacuolization is a protective action rather than a part of the death mechanism. In conclusion, by using IBC as a chemical probe, we provide new characteristics of methuosis-like cell death. Inducing methuosis-like cell death may represent a novel strategy to combat leukemia.

Bi C, Liu M, Rong W, et al.
High Beclin-1 and ARID1A expression corelates with poor survival and high recurrence in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: a histopathological retrospective study.
BMC Cancer. 2019; 19(1):213 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Although surgical resection provides a cure for patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), the risk of mortality and recurrence remains high. Several biomarkers are reported to be associated with the prognosis of ICC, including Beclin-1, ARID1A, carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9) and isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), but results are inconsistent. Therefore, a histopathological retrospective study was performed to simultaneously investigate the relationship of these four potential biomarkers with clinicopathological parameters and their prognostic values in patients with ICC.
METHODS: A total of 113 patients with ICC were enrolled from Cancer Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences between January 1999 and June 2015. The expression of Beclin-1, ARID1A, IDH1 and CA9 were determined by immunohistochemical staining. The prognostic values of the four biomarkers were analyzed by Cox regression and the Kaplan-Meier method.
RESULTS: Beclin-1, ARID1A, CA9 and IDH1 were highly expressed in ICC tumor tissues. Higher mortality was positively associated with Beclin-1 expression (HR = 2.39, 95% CI = 1.09-5.24) and higher recurrence was positively associated with ARID1A expression (HR = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.06-2.78). Neither CA9 nor IDH1 expression was significantly associated with mortality or disease recurrence. Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed that ICC patients with higher Beclin-1 and ARID1A expression had a lower survival rate and a worse recurrence rate than patients with low Beclin-1 and ARID1A expression (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: High Beclin-1 and ARIDIA expression are strongly associated with poor prognosis in ICC patients, and thus Beclin-1 and ARID1A should be simultaneously considered as potential prognostic biomarkers for ICC patients.

Xu J, Song J, Yang X, et al.
ProNGF siRNA inhibits cell proliferation and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells and promotes anoikis.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2019; 111:1066-1073 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Precursor of nerve growth factor (proNGF) was previously considered biologically inactive; however, it has recently been identified as having important roles in the pathology of cancer development.
AIM: This study aimed to explore the therapeutic effects of proNGF siRNA on the proliferation, invasion, and anoikis of pancreatic cancer cells and determine the functions of proNGF.
METHODS: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and paired paracancerous tissue samples were collected from 60 patients for evaluation of proNGF expression by immunohistochemistry staining, qPCR, and western blotting. PDAC cell proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and anoikis following proNGF siRNA knockdown were investigated in two pancreatic cancer cell lines, Panc-1 and Bxpc-3, using BrdU incorporation assays, EdU staining, Ki-67 immunofluorescence (IF) staining, wound-healing assays, transwell invasion assays, and EthD-1 IF staining. Autophagy-related proteins were also measured by western blotting.
RESULTS: Levels of proNGF protein were higher in pancreatic cancer tissues and cells lines than those in paracancerous tissues and normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells, respectively. In vitro, ProNGF knockdown by siRNA led to significantly reduced cell proliferation, remarkably inhibited wound-healing, and reduced the number of invaded PDAC cells in migration and transwell assays. Treatment with proNGF siRNA also downregulated ATG5 and Beclin 1 protein levels, increased those of P62, and increased EthD-1 staining in PDAC cells.
CONCLUSION: ProNGF expression is elevated in PDAC tissues and cell lines, and proNGF siRNA can inhibit cell proliferation, migration, and invasion, and promote anoikis of pancreatic cancer cells, in which decreased proNGF may participate.

Tekedereli I, Akar U, Alpay SN, et al.
Autophagy is Required to Regulate Mitochondria Renewal, Cell Attachment, and All-trans-Retinoic Acid-Induced Differentiation in NB4 Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Cells.
J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2019; 38(1):13-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is a potent inducer of cellular differentiation, growth arrest, and apoptosis as well as a front-line therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). The present study provides evidence that induction of autophagy is required for ATRA to induce differentiation of APL (NB4) cells into granulocytes. ATRA treatment causes ~12-fold increase in the number of acidic vesicular organelles and induces marked up-regulation of LC3-II, autophagy-related 5 (ATG5), and Beclin-1. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed a decrease in mitochondria and ATRA-induced differentiation. To determine the role of autophagy in the differentiation of APL, we knocked down ATG5 in NB4 cells to find that ATRA-induced differentiation is significantly inhibited during ATG5 knock down in cells, indicating the role of autophagy in differentiation of APL. Further experiments revealed restriction of autophagy during ATRA-induced differentiation and inhibition of tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2) and phospho-focal adhesion kinase (p-FAK), which are known to have roles in differentiation and cell attachment. We examined expression of Beclin-1 and B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) and levels of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) after ATRA treatment. ATRA inhibits Bcl-2, up-regulates Beclin-1 expression, and reduces induction of mTOR activation/phosphorylation in NB4 cells. Our results reveal that autophagy has roles in regulation of differentiation, mitochondria elimination, and cell attachment during ATRA-induced APL differentiation.

Zhang F, Ma C
Kaempferol suppresses human gastric cancer SNU-216 cell proliferation, promotes cell autophagy, but has no influence on cell apoptosis.
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2019; 52(2):e7843 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gastric cancer remains a serious threat to human health worldwide. Kaempferol is a plant-derived flavonoid compound with a wide range of pharmacological activities. This study aimed to investigate the effects of kaempferol on gastric cancer SNU-216 cell proliferation, apoptosis, and autophagy, as well as underlying potential mechanisms. Viability, proliferation, and apoptosis of SNU-216 cells after kaempferol treatment were evaluated using cell counting kit-8 assay, 5-btomo-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation assay, and annexin V-FITC/PI staining, respectively. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR was performed to measure the mRNA expressions of cyclin D1 and microRNA-181a (miR-181a) in SNU-216 cells. Cell transfection was used to down-regulate the expression of miR-181a. The protein expression levels of cyclin D1, bcl-2, bax, caspase 3, caspase 9, autophagy-related gene 7, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-I (LC3-I), LC3-II, Beclin 1, p62, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), extracellular regulated protein kinases (ERK), and phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K) in SNU-216 cells were detected using western blotting. Results showed that kaempferol significantly suppressed SNU-216 cell viability and proliferation but had no influence on cell apoptosis. Further results suggested that kaempferol significantly induced SNU-216 cell autophagy. The expression of miR-181a in SNU-216 cells after kaempferol treatment was enhanced. Kaempferol significantly inactivated MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathways in SNU-216 cells. Suppression of miR-181a significantly reversed the kaempferol-induced MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathways inactivation in SNU-216 cells. This research demonstrated that kaempferol suppressed proliferation and promoted autophagy of human gastric cancer SNU-216 cells by up-regulating miR-181a and inactivating MAPK/ERK and PI3K pathways.

Wu CL, Liu JF, Liu Y, et al.
Beclin1 inhibition enhances paclitaxel‑mediated cytotoxicity in breast cancer in vitro and in vivo.
Int J Mol Med. 2019; 43(4):1866-1878 [PubMed] Related Publications
Beclin1, a key regulator of autophagy, has been demonstrated to be associated with cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy. Paclitaxel is a conventional chemotherapeutic drug used in the clinical treatment of breast cancer. However, the function and mechanism of Beclin1 in paclitaxel‑mediated cytotoxicity in breast cancer are not well defined. The present study demonstrated that paclitaxel suppressed cell viability and Beclin1 expression levels in BT‑474 breast cancer cells in a dose‑ and time‑dependent fashion. Compared with the control, the knockdown of Beclin1 significantly enhanced breast cancer cell death via the induction of caspase‑dependent apoptosis following paclitaxel treatment in vitro (P<0.05). In a BT‑474 xenograft model, paclitaxel achieved substantial inhibition of tumor growth in the Beclin1 knockdown group compared with the control group. Furthermore, analysis of the publicly available Gene Expression Omnibus datasets revealed a clinical correlation between Beclin1 levels and the response to paclitaxel therapy in patients with breast cancer. Collectively, the present results suggest that Beclin1 protects breast cancer cells from apoptotic death. Thus, the inhibition of Beclin1 may be a novel way to improve the effect of paclitaxel. Additionally, Beclin1 may function as a favorable prognostic biomarker for paclitaxel treatment in patients with breast cancer.

Xia C, He Z, Liang S, et al.
Metformin combined with nelfinavir induces SIRT3/mROS-dependent autophagy in human cervical cancer cells and xenograft in nude mice.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2019; 848:62-69 [PubMed] Related Publications
The molecular mechanisms underlying the antineoplastic properties of metformin combined with nelfinavir remain elusive. To explore this question, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to observe the combinatorial effect of inducing autophagosome formation in human cervical cancer cells. Western blotting respectively assayed protein expression of LC3I, LC3II, Beclin-1, Autophagy-related protein 7 (Atg7), Autophagy-related protein 3 (Atg3), NAD-dependent deacetylase sirtuin-3 (SIRT3) and major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related gene A (MICA). Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) cytotoxicity assay evaluated natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity in the presence of metformin and nelfinavir in combination or each drug alone. Using tumor xenografts in a nude mouse model, antitumor efficacy of the drug combination was assessed. We found that the drug combination could induce autophagosome formation in human cervical cancer cells. The biomarker proteins of autophagy, including Beclin-1, Atg7 and Atg3, decreased, but the ratios of LC3I/II increased. We also found that this drug combination sensitizes human cervical cancer cells to NK cell-mediated lysis by increasing the protein of SIRT3 and MICA. Moreover, this drug combination markedly induced autophagy of SiHa xenografts in nude mice. Therefore, it can be concluded that metformin, in combination with nelfinavir, can induce SIRT3/mROS-dependent autophagy and sensitize NK cell-mediated lysis in human cervical cancer cells and cervical cancer cell xenografts in nude mice. Thus, our findings have revealed the detailed molecular mechanisms underlying the antitumor effects of metformin in combination with nelfinavir in cervical cancer.

Chu CW, Ko HJ, Chou CH, et al.
Thioridazine Enhances P62-Mediated Autophagy and Apoptosis Through Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway in Glioma Cells.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(3) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Thioridazine (THD) is a common phenothiazine antipsychotic drug reported to suppress growth in several types of cancer cells. We previously showed that THD acts as an antiglioblastoma and anticancer stem-like cell agent. However, the signaling pathway underlying autophagy and apoptosis induction remains unclear. THD treatment significantly induced autophagy with upregulated AMPK activity and engendered cell death with increased sub-G1 in glioblastoma multiform (GBM) cell lines. Notably, through whole gene expression screening with THD treatment, frizzled (Fzd) proteins, a family of G-protein-coupled receptors, were found, suggesting the participation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. After THD treatment, Fzd-1 and GSK3β-S9 phosphorylation (inactivated form) was reduced to promote β-catenin degradation, which attenuated P62 inhibition. The autophagy marker LC3-II markedly increased when P62 was released from β-catenin inhibition. Additionally, the P62-dependent caspase-8 activation that induced P53-independent apoptosis was confirmed by inhibiting T-cell factor/β-catenin and autophagy flux. Moreover, treatment with THD combined with temozolomide (TMZ) engendered increased LC3-II expression and caspase-3 activity, indicating promising drug synergism. In conclusion, THD induces autophagy in GBM cells by not only upregulating AMPK activity, but also enhancing P62-mediated autophagy and apoptosis through Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Therefore, THD is a potential alternative therapeutic agent for drug repositioning in GBM.

Ju S, Liang Z, Li C, et al.
The effect and mechanism of miR-210 in down-regulating the autophagy of lung cancer cells.
Pathol Res Pract. 2019; 215(3):453-458 [PubMed] Related Publications
This project aims to investigate the roles of miR-210 in autophagy of lung cancer cells and the related mechanism. The expressions of miR-210 and ATG7 in 30 cancer tissues and the adjacent tissues in patients with lung cancer were compared using RT-qPCR methods, Western Blot assay was carried out to test the expression of ATG7 in protein. Moreover, the dual luciferase reporter gene assay system was used to confirm ATG7 is a target gene of miR-210. Furthermore, lung cancer cell line A549 was transfected with either miR-210 mimics or inhibitors and RT-qPCR methods was used to detect the expression of miR-210 and ATG7. Next, MTT assay was used to examine the effect of miR-210 on the growth of the lung cancer cells, and finally, the expression of autophagy related genes, ATG7, LC3-II/LC3-I and Beclin-1 were detected by Western Blot and ICC assay. We observed that miR-210 was significantly increased and ATG7 was markedly decreased in cancer tissue of patients with lung cancer compared with normal tissue. Moreover, results of dual luciferase reporter assay indicated that ATG7 is a direct target of miR-210. Next, transfection of miR-210 mimics in lung cancer cells induced significant increase in cell proliferation, and transfection of miR-210 inhibitors lead to inhibited cell proliferation. Furthermore, over-expression of miR-210 induced marked decrease in the expression of ATG7, LC3-II/LC3-I and Beclin-1, while transfection of miR-210 inhibitors induced significant increase in the expression of ATG7, LC3-II/LC3-I and beclin-1. Our results suggested that miR-210 plays a great role in autophagy of lung cancer cell by targeting ATG7.

Ye L, Zhou J, Zhao W, et al.
Gambogic acid-induced autophagy in nonsmall cell lung cancer NCI-H441 cells through a reactive oxygen species pathway.
J Cancer Res Ther. 2018; 14(Supplement):S942-S947 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aim of the Study: Garcinia hanburyi is a traditional herbal medicine with activities of anti-inflammation and hemostasis used by people in South Asia. Gambogic acid (GA) is the main active component extracted from it, which has anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. The aim of the current study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms of GA's effective anticancer activity.
Materials and Methods: 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay was used to measure cell proliferation. Apoptosis induced by GA was analyzed by flow cytometry. In addition, monodansylcadaverine (MDC) and 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein diacetate were used to evaluate autophagy and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, respectively.
Results: GA could significantly inhibit nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) NCI-H441 cell growth. In addition, GA induced NCI-H441 cells autophagy, confirmed by MDC staining, upregulation of Beclin 1 (initiation factor for autophagosome formation), and conversion of LC3 I to LC3 II (autophagosome marker). Moreover, generated ROS was induced by GA in NCI-H441 cells and the ROS scavenger N-acetylcysteine reversed GA-induced autophagy and restored the cell survival, which indicated GA-induced autophagy in NCI-H441 cells through an ROS-dependent pathway. In addition, in vivo results further indicated that GA significantly inhibited the growth of NCI-H441 xenografts.
Conclusions: The results shed new light on the interaction between ROS generation and autophagy in NSCLC cells and provide theoretical support for the usage of GA in clinical treatment.

Zhou XT, Pu ZJ, Liu LX, et al.
Inhibition of autophagy enhances adenosine‑induced apoptosis in human hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(2):829-838 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
In cancer research, autophagy acts as a double‑edged sword: it increases cell viability or induces cell apoptosis depending upon the cell context and functional status. Recent studies have shown that adenosine (Ado) has cytotoxic effects in many tumors. However, the role of autophagy in Ado‑induced apoptosis is still poorly understood. In the present study, Ado‑induced apoptotic death and autophagy in hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells was investigated and the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis was identified. In the present study, it was demonstrated that Ado inhibited HepG2 cell growth in a time‑ and concentration‑dependent manner and activated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, as indicated by G0/G1 cell cycle arrest, the increased mRNA and protein levels of GRP78/BiP, PERK, ATF4, CHOP, cleaved caspase‑3, cytochrome c and the loss of mitochon-drial membrane potential (ΔΨm). Ado also induced autophagic flux, revealed by the increased expression of the autophagy marker microtubule‑associated protein 1 light chain 3‑II (LC3‑II), Beclin‑1, autophagosomes, and the degradation of p62, as revealed by western blot analysis and macrophage‑derived chemokine (MDC) staining. Blocking autophagy using LY294002 notably entrenched Ado‑induced growth inhibition and cell apoptosis, as demonstrated with the increased expression of cytochrome c and p62, and the decreased expression of LC3‑II. Conversely, the autophagy inducer rapamycin alleviated Ado‑induced apoptosis and markedly increased the ΔΨm. Moreover, knockdown of AMPK with si‑AMPK partially abolished Ado‑induced ULK1 activation and mTOR inhibition, and thus reinforced CHOP expression and Ado‑induced apoptosis. These results indicated that Ado‑induced ER stress resulted in apoptosis and autophagy concurrently. The AMPK/mTOR/ULK1 signaling pathway played a protective role in the apoptotic procession. Inhibition of autophagy may effectively enhance the anticancer effect of Ado in human hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells.

Giatromanolaki A, Koukourakis MI, Georgiou I, et al.
LC3A, LC3B and Beclin-1 Expression in Gastric Cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2018; 38(12):6827-6833 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The current study examined the key proteins involved in autophagosome formation and their prognostic role in gastric cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Paraffin-embedded tissues from 121 consecutive patients treated with surgery for gastric cancer were analyzed immunohistochemically for the expression of autophagic proteins microtubule-associated proteins 1A/1B light chain 3A and 3B (LC3A, LC3B) and beclin-1 (encoded by BECN1 gene). Assessment of proliferative index using the MIB1 monoclonal antibody (recognizing an epitope of the Ki-67 antigen, encoded by the MK167 gene) and correlations with histopathological [corrected].
RESULTS: Strong cytoplasmic expression was noted for all studied proteins, although to a varying proportion, the median percentage being 30% for LC3A, and 40% for LC3B and beclin-1. The median score of LC3A
CONCLUSION: Intense autophagic activity, as assessed by LC3A immunostaining and SLS quantification, is a strong prognostic marker in gastric cancer and can be useful for clinical application.

He RQ, Xiong DD, Ma J, et al.
The Clinicopathological Significance and Correlative Signaling Pathways of an Autophagy-Related Gene, Ambra1, in Breast Cancer: a Study of 25 Microarray RNA-Seq Datasets and in-House Gene Silencing.
Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018; 51(3):1027-1040 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The activating molecule in Beclin1-regulated autophagy (Ambra1) has been observed to be over-expressed in several cancers, but the clinical contribution of Ambra1 in breast cancer (BC) remains unknown. Hence, in this study, we conducted a comprehensive investigation into the expression, biological role, and underlying functional mechanism of Ambra1 in BC.
METHODS: Microarray and RNA-seq datasets providing Ambra1 expression data were obtained from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), ArrayExpress, Oncomine, and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Both standard mean deviation (SMD) and summary receiver operating characteristic methods were employed to assess Ambra1 expression in BC. We then silenced Ambra1 in MDA-MB-231 cells and performed in vitro experiments to explore the biological effects of Ambra1 on BC cells. Furthermore, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) after Ambra1 knock-down were profiled with a microarray and overlapped with the genes correlated with Ambra1 from Multi Experiment Matrix (MEM) and genes similar to Ambra1 from Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis. These overlapping genes were collected for further bioinformatics analyses to investigate the underlying molecular mechanism of Ambra1 in BC.
RESULTS: A total of 25 microarray and RNA-seq datasets involving 2460 breast cancer samples were included. The pooled results demonstrated that Ambra1 was markedly up-regulated in BC tissues (SMD=0.39, 95% CI=0.15-0.63; P=0.002), and the Ambra1 level was also significantly related to the progression of BC, especially metastasis status (P=0.004). In vitro experiments suggested that the proliferation of MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with Ambra1 short hairpin RNA (sh-RNA 2450) showed a decreasing trend at 48 h compared with the control (CK) group. However, apoptosis was similar in cells transfected with Ambra1 sh-RNAs and in the CK cells. Furthermore, we performed a microarray-based comparison of genes after Ambra1 knock-down. The 828 DEGs from microarray analysis were intersected with 4266 Ambra1 co-expressed genes from MEM. Eventually, the overlapped 183 genes were found to be enriched in several well-known cancer-related pathways, including the MAPK signaling pathway, chronic myeloid leukemia pathway, and VEGF signaling pathway.
CONCLUSION: These results indicate that the level of Ambra1 up-regulation is clearly related to tumorigenesis and progression of BC, probably via influencing several vital pathways. However, this hypothesis needs to be validated with more in-depth experiments in the future.

Cao Y, Luo Y, Zou J, et al.
Autophagy and its role in gastric cancer.
Clin Chim Acta. 2019; 489:10-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
Autophagy, which is tightly regulated by a series of autophagy-related genes (ATGs), is a vital intracellular homeostatic process through which defective proteins and organelles are degraded and recycled under starvation, hypoxia or other specific cellular stress conditions. For both normal cells and tumour cells, autophagy not only sustains cell survival but can also promote cell death. Autophagy-related signalling pathways include mTOR-dependent pathways, such as the AMPK/mTOR and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways, and non-mTOR dependent pathways, such as the P53 pathway. Additionally, autophagy plays a dual role in gastric carcinoma (GC), including a tumour-suppressor role and a tumour-promoter role. Long-term Helicobacter pylori infection can impair autophagy, which may eventually promote tumourigenesis of the gastric mucosa. Moreover, Beclin1, LC3 and P62/SQSTM1 are regarded as autophagy-related markers with GC prognostic value. Autophagy inhibitors and autophagy inducers show promise for GC treatment. This review describes research progress regarding autophagy and its significant role in gastric cancer.

Huang F, Wang BR, Wang YG
Role of autophagy in tumorigenesis, metastasis, targeted therapy and drug resistance of hepatocellular carcinoma.
World J Gastroenterol. 2018; 24(41):4643-4651 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Autophagy is a "self-degradative" process and is involved in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and the control of cellular components by facilitating the clearance or turnover of long-lived or misfolded proteins, protein aggregates, and damaged organelles. Autophagy plays a dual role in cancer, including in tumor progression and tumor promotion, suggesting that autophagy acts as a double-edged sword in cancer cells. Liver cancer is one of the greatest leading causes of cancer death worldwide due to its high recurrence rate and poor prognosis. Especially in China, liver cancer has become one of the most common cancers due to the high infection rate of hepatitis virus. In primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type. Considering the perniciousness and complexity of HCC, it is essential to elucidate the function of autophagy in HCC. In this review, we summarize the physiological function of autophagy in cancer, analyze the role of autophagy in tumorigenesis and metastasis, discuss the therapeutic strategies targeting autophagy and the mechanisms of drug-resistance in HCC, and provide potential methods to circumvent resistance and combined anticancer strategies for HCC patients.

Lin X, Han L, Weng J, et al.
Rapamycin inhibits proliferation and induces autophagy in human neuroblastoma cells.
Biosci Rep. 2018; 38(6) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications

Huang FX, Chen HJ, Zheng FX, et al.
LncRNA BLACAT1 is involved in chemoresistance of non‑small cell lung cancer cells by regulating autophagy.
Int J Oncol. 2019; 54(1):339-347 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the long non‑coding RNA (lncRNA) bladder cancer‑associated transcript 1 (BLACAT1) in chemoresistance of non‑small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Expression of lncRNA BLACAT1, microRNA (miR)‑17, autophagy‑related protein 7 (ATG7), multidrug‑resistance protein 1 (MRP1), and the autophagy‑associated proteins light chain 3 (LC3)‑II/LC3‑I and Beclin 1 were detected using the reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis. Cell viability was determined using an MTT assay. The interaction between BLACAT1 and miR‑17 was determined using RNA immunoprecipitation and RNA pull‑down assays. A cisplatin (DDP)‑resistant NSCLC cell A549/DDP xenograft model in nude mice was established to investigate the effect of BLACAT1 on the chemoresistance of NSCLC cells. Compared with in DDP‑sensitive NSCLC cells, expression of BLACAT1, ATG7, MRP1, LC3‑II/LC3‑I and Beclin 1 was significantly upregulated in DDP‑resistant NSCLC cells, whereas miR‑17 was downregulated in DDP‑resistant NSCLC cells. Short interfering RNA against BLACAT1 decreased the viability of DDP‑resistant NSCLC cells. In addition, BLACAT1 interacted with miR‑17, and negatively regulated miR‑17. BLACAT1 promoted ATG7 expression through miR‑17, and facilitated autophagy and promoted chemoresistance of NSCLC cells through miR‑17/ATG7. Finally, in vivo experiments indicated that inhibition of BLACAT1 ameliorated the chemoresistance of NSCLC. BLACAT1 was upregulated in DDP‑resistant NSCLC cells, and promoted autophagy and chemoresistance of NSCLC cells through the miR‑17/ATG7 signaling pathway.

Jian M, Yunjia Z, Zhiying D, et al.
Interleukin 7 receptor activates PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway via downregulation of Beclin-1 in lung cancer.
Mol Carcinog. 2019; 58(3):358-365 [PubMed] Related Publications
Interleukin-7(IL-7) can regulate proliferation and apoptosis of cell and also regulate tumor lymphangiogenesis, but whether it regulating autophagy of tumor cells is not well known. We study the relationship between IL-7 and some autophagy-related markers, Beclin 1 and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the mechanism of IL-7 in regulating autophagy of human lung cancer cells. We detected expression of Beclin 1 and mTOR in lung cancer cells and their impact on the prognosis of lung cancer patients. Using Western blot and Reverse Transcription PCR, we found that IL-7 activates PI3 K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway by downregulated the expression of Beclin 1 in lung cancer cell lines. In addition, the expressions of Beclin 1 and mTOR were well correlated with clinical stages and survival of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. IL-7R, mTOR, and tumor stage were the independent prognosticators in lung cancer. Taken together, our results provided evidence that IL-7 activates PI3 K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway via Beclin 1 to regulate autophagy in lung cancer cells.

Batool S, Joseph TP, Hussain M, et al.
LP1 from
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(10) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Present study aimed to elucidate the anticancer effect and the possible molecular mechanism underlying the action of Latcripin 1 (LP1), from the mushroom

Dai N, Ye R, He Q, et al.
Capsaicin and sorafenib combination treatment exerts synergistic anti‑hepatocellular carcinoma activity by suppressing EGFR and PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling.
Oncol Rep. 2018; 40(6):3235-3248 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Capsaicin (8‑methyl N‑vanillyl‑6 nonenamide) is a natural plant extract that has antitumor properties and induces apoptosis and autophagy in various types of malignancies, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Sorafenib is a multi‑kinase inhibitor that improves the survival of patients with advanced HCC. In the present study, capsaicin and sorafenib were found to inhibit the growth of LM3, Hep3B and HuH7 cells. In addition, the combination of capsaicin and sorafenib exerted a synergistic inhibitory effect on HCC cell growth. In LM3 cells, capsaicin and sorafenib combination treatment achieved a markedly stronger induction of apoptosis by increasing caspase‑3, Bax and poly(ADP‑ribose) polymerase activity and inhibiting Bcl‑2, and induction of autophagy by upregulating the levels of beclin‑1 and LC3A/B II, enhancing P62 degradation. The combination of capsaicin and sorafenib also inhibited cell invasion and metastasis via upregulation of E‑cadherin and downregulation of N‑cadherin, vimentin, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)2 and MMP9. Additional studies suggested an association between the abovementioned anticancer activities and inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor/phosphoinositide 3 kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway. Taken together, these data confirm that capsaicin and sorafenib combination treatment inhibits the growth, invasion and metastasis of HCC cells and induces autophagy in a synergistic manner, supporting its potential as a therapeutic option for HCC.

Wu JS, Li L, Wang SS, et al.
Autophagy is positively associated with the accumulation of myeloid‑derived suppressor cells in 4‑nitroquinoline‑1‑oxide‑induced oral cancer.
Oncol Rep. 2018; 40(6):3381-3391 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
It has previously been demonstrated that autophagy and inflammation act synergistically to promote carcinogenesis. However, the precise roles of autophagy in multistep oral carcinogenesis are still unclear, particularly regarding its association with tumor inflammation. The present study established a 4NQO‑induced oral cancer mouse model and investigated autophagy status in the multistep process of oral carcinogenesis using immunohistochemistry, western blotting and immunofluorescence staining. Furthermore, the number of Gr‑1+CD11b+ myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) during oral carcinogenesis and the association with autophagy status was also examined. The results revealed that the expression of autophagy biomarkers, including dihydrosphingosine 1-phosphate phosphatase LCB3 (LC3B), p62/SQSTM1 (p62) and Beclin 1 increased during 4NQO‑induced carcinogenesis and in human oral cancer. The number of MDSCs and Tregs also increased during oral carcinogenesis. Furthermore, the expression of LC3B and p62 significantly correlated with the accumulation of MDSCs and the expression of Beclin 1 correlated with the increase of Tregs. These data indicated that autophagy may be activated by the tumor inflammation microenvironment during oral carcinogenesis.

Jayasooriya RGPT, Dilshara MG, Karunarathne WAHM, et al.
Camptothecin enhances c-Myc-mediated endoplasmic reticulum stress and leads to autophagy by activating Ca
Food Chem Toxicol. 2018; 121:648-656 [PubMed] Related Publications
Camptothecin (CPT) from Camptotheca acuminate was discovered for anticancer drugs, which targets topoisomease I. However, whether CPT regulates c-Myc expression has not been understood in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and autophagy. In this study, we found that CPT enhanced c-Myc expression and that the transient knockdown of c-Myc abrogated reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, which resulted in the accumulation of ER stress-regulating proteins, such as PERK, eIF2α, ATF4, and CHOP. Moreover, the transfection of eIF2α-targeted siRNA attenuated CPT-induced autophagy and decreased the levels of Beclin-1 and Atg7, which indicated that CPT upregulated ER stress-mediated autophagy. In addition, CPT phosphorylated AMPK in response to intracellular Ca

Tae IH, Park EY, Dey P, et al.
Novel SIRT1 inhibitor 15-deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 and its derivatives exhibit anticancer activity through apoptotic or autophagic cell death pathways in SKOV3 cells.
Int J Oncol. 2018; 53(6):2518-2530 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Clinically relevant sirtuin (SIRT) inhibitors may possess antitumor activities. A previous study indicated that 15-deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2) exhibited potent anticancer activity by SIRT1 inhibition. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether its derivatives (J11-C1 and J19) exhibited anticancer activity against ovarian cancer SKOV3 cells. Cell viability was determined using an MTT assay. Cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and autophagy were determined using flow cytometry or western blot analysis. J11-Cl and J19 were less cytotoxic to SKOV3 cells compared with 15d-PGJ2. Molecular docking studies supported the interactions of 15d-PGJ2, J11-Cl and J19 with various amino acids in SIRT1 proteins. Similar to 15d-PGJ2, J11-C1 and J19 inhibited SIRT1 enzymatic activity and decreased SIRT1 expression levels in a concentration-dependent manner. J11-C1 induced apoptotic cell death more effectively compared with J19, which was associated with markedly decreased expression of the anti-apoptotic molecule B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). Furthermore, the levels of light chain 3-Ⅱ (LC3-II) and beclin-1 were clearly induced in SKOV3 cells treated with J11-Cl. Thus, 15d-PGJ2 and its derivatives exhibited anticancer activity possibly by inducing apoptotic or autophagic cell death pathways. Collectively, the results of the present study suggest that 15d-PGJ2 and its derivatives exerted antitumor activity by selectively modulating the expression of genes associated with cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and autophagy. Notably, J11-C1 is a novel candidate SIRT1 inhibitor with anticancer activity.

Kim JC, Ha YJ, Tak KH, et al.
Opposite functions of GSN and OAS2 on colorectal cancer metastasis, mediating perineural and lymphovascular invasion, respectively.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(8):e0202856 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The present study aimed to identify molecules associated with lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and perineural invasion (PNI) and to examine their biological behavior in colorectal cancer (CRC). LVI- and PNI-associated molecules were identified and verified using sequential processes including (1) identification of 117 recurrence-associated genes differentially expressed on RNA-seq analysis using primary cancer tissues from 130 CRC patients with and without systemic recurrence; (2) analysis of molecules associated with LVI and PNI; (3) assessment of biological properties by measuring proliferation, anoikis, invasion/migration, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and autophagy flux; and (4) verification of disease-free survival using public datasets. Gelsolin (GSN) and 2'-5'-oligoadenylate synthetase 2 (OAS2) were associated with PNI and LVI, respectively. Invasion potential was >2-fold greater in GSN-overexpressing LoVo cells than in control cells (p<0.001-0.005), whereas OAS2-overexpressing RKO cells showed reduced invasion (p<0.001-0.005). GSN downregulated E-cadherin, β-catenin, claudin-1 and snail, and upregulated N-cadherin and ZEB1, whereas OAS2 overexpression had the opposite effects. Several autophagy-related proteins including ATG5-12, ATG6/BECN1, ATG7 and ATG101 were downregulated in GSN-overexpressing LoVo cells, whereas the opposite pattern was observed in OAS2-overexpressing RKO cells. Patients with low GSN expression had significantly higher 5-year recurrence-free survival (RFS) rates than those with GSN overexpression (73.6% vs. 64.7%, p = 0.038), whereas RFS was longer in patients with OAS2 overexpression than in those with underexpression (73.4% vs. 63.7%, p = 0.01). In conclusion, GSN and OAS2 were positively and negatively associated with recurrence, respectively, suggesting their potential value as predictors of recurrence or therapeutic targets in CRC patients.

Thongchot S, Vidoni C, Ferraresi A, et al.
Dihydroartemisinin induces apoptosis and autophagy-dependent cell death in cholangiocarcinoma through a DAPK1-BECLIN1 pathway.
Mol Carcinog. 2018; 57(12):1735-1750 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a very aggressive cancer arising from the malignant transformation of cholangiocytes. Intrahepatic CCA is associated with reactive inflammation and intense fibrosis of the hepatobiliary tract. Dihydroartemisinin (DHA), the active compound found in Artemisia annua, has been shown to possess anti-tumor activity in a variety of human cancers, including hepatoma. Here, we tested the ability of DHA to specifically kill CCA cells and have investigated the underlying mechanisms. DHA induced both apoptosis and autophagy-dependent caspase-independent cell death in many CCA cell lines, while being slightly toxic to immortalized cholangiocytes. DHA induced the expression of many apoptosis- and autophagy-related genes in CCA cells. In particular, it greatly induced the expression of DAPK1, and reduced the interaction of BECLIN1 with BCL-2 while promoting its interaction with PI3KC3. Genetic silencing of DAPK1 prevented DHA-induced autophagy. Pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of BECLIN1 function prevented autophagy and cell death induced by DHA in CCA cells. These data unravel a novel pathway of DHA cancer toxicity and open the possibility to introduce DHA in the therapeutic regimen for the treatment of CCA.

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