Novel role of the dietary flavonoid fisetin in suppressing rRNA biogenesis

Academic Article


  • The nucleolus of a cell is a critical cellular compartment that is responsible for ribosome biogenesis and plays a central role in tumor progression. Fisetin, a nutraceutical, is a naturally occurring flavonol from the flavonoid group of polyphenols that has anti-cancer effects. Fisetin negatively impacts several signaling pathways that support tumor progression. However, effect of fisetin on the nucleolus and its functions were unknown. We observed that fisetin is able to physically enter the nucleolus. In the nucleolus, RNA polymerase I (RNA Pol I) mediates the biogenesis of ribosomal RNA. Thus, we investigated the impacts of fisetin on the nucleolus. We observed that breast tumor cells treated with fisetin show a 20–30% decreased nucleolar abundance per cell and a 30–60% downregulation of RNA Pol I transcription activity, as well as a 50–70% reduction in nascent rRNA synthesis, depending on the cell line. Our studies show that fisetin negatively influences MAPK/ERK pathway to impair RNA Pol I activity and rRNA biogenesis. Functionally, we demonstrate that fisetin acts synergistically (CI = 0.4) with RNA Pol I inhibitor, BMH-21 and shows a noteworthy negative impact (60% decrease) on lung colonization of breast cancer cells. Overall, our findings highlight the potential of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) biogenesis as a target for secondary prevention and possible treatment of metastatic disease.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kammerud SC; Metge BJ; Elhamamsy AR; Weeks SE; Alsheikh HA; Mattheyses AL; Shevde LA; Samant RS
  • Start Page

  • 1439
  • End Page

  • 1448
  • Volume

  • 101
  • Issue

  • 11