The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor flavopiridol disrupts sodium butyrate-induced p21WAF1/CIP1 expression and maturation while reciprocally potentiating apoptosis in human leukemia cells

Roberto R. Rosato, Jorge A. Almenara, Leanne Cartee, Vicki Betts, Srikumar P. Chellappan, Steven Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Interactions between the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor flavopiridol (FP) and the histone deacetylase inhibitor sodium butyrate (SB) have been examined in human leukemia cells (U937) in relation to differentiation and apoptosis. Whereas 1 mM of SB or 100 nM of FP minimally induced apoptosis (4% and 10%, respectively) at 24 h, simultaneous exposure of U937 cells to these agents dramatically increased cell death (e.g., ∼60%), reflected by both morphological and Annexin/propidium iodide-staining features, procaspase 3 activation, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage. Similar interactions were observed in human promyelocytic (HL-60), B-lymphoblastic (Raji), and T-lymphoblastic (Jurkat) leukemia cells. Coadministration of FP opposed SB-mediated accumulation of cells in G0G1 and differentiation, reflected by reduced CD11b expression, but instead dramatically increased procaspase-3, procaspase-8, Bid, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, as well as mitochondrial damage (e.g., loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release). FP also blocked SB-related p21 WAF1-CIP1 induction through a caspase-independent mechanism and triggered the caspase-mediated cleavage of p27KIP1 and retinoblastoma protein. The latter event was accompanied by a marked reduction in retinoblastoma protein/E2F1 complex formation. However, FP did not modify the extent of SB-associated acetylation of histones H3 and H4. Treatment of cells with FP/SB also resulted in the caspase-mediated cleavage of Bcl-2 and caspase-independent down-regulation of Mcl-1. Levels of cyclins A, D1, and E, and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis also declined in SB/FP-treated cells. Finally, FP/SB coexposure potently induced apoptosis in two primary acute myelogenous leukemia samples. Together, these findings demonstrate that FP, when combined with SB, induces multiple perturbations in cell cycle and apoptosis regulatory proteins, which oppose leukemic cell differentiation but instead promote mitochondrial damage and apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-266
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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