The P2Y2/Src/p38/COX-2 pathway is involved in the resistance to ursolic acid-induced apoptosis in colorectal and prostate cancer cells.

Research paper by Youness Y Limami, Aline A Pinon, David Yannick DY Leger, Emilie E Pinault, Christiane C Delage, Jean-Louis JL Beneytout, Alain A Simon, Bertrand B Liagre

Indexed on: 24 Apr '12Published on: 24 Apr '12Published in: Biochimie


One of the hallmarks of cancer is resistance to apoptosis. Elucidating the mechanisms of how cancer cells evade or delay apoptosis should lead to novel therapeutic strategies. Previously, we showed that HT-29 colorectal cancer cells undergoing apoptosis overexpressed cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), in a p38 dependent pathway, to delay ursolic acid-induced apoptosis. Here, we focused on elucidating the upstream signaling pathways regulating this resistance mechanism. The role of ATP as an extracellular signaling molecule took a long time to be accepted. In recent years, ATP and its analogs, via the activation of specific purinergic receptors, have been implicated in many biological processes including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. In the present report, we have demonstrated a novel role involving purinergic receptors and particularly the P2Y(2) receptor in resistance to ursolic acid-induced apoptosis in both colorectal HT-29 and prostate DU145 cancer cells. We found that ursolic acid induced an increase in intracellular ATP and P2Y(2) transcript levels. Upon activation, P2Y(2) activated Src which in turn phosphorylated p38 leading to COX-2 overexpression which induced resistance to apoptosis in both HT-29 and DU145 cells. Furthermore, Ca(2+)-independent PLA(2) (iPLA(2)) and Ca(2+)-dependent secretory PLA(2) (sPLA(2)) were responsible for arachidonic acid release, the substrate of COX-2. Our findings document that apoptosis triggering was dependent on protein kinase C (PKC) activation in both cell lines after ursolic acid treatment.