Withaferin A and sulforaphane regulate breast cancer cell cycle progression through epigenetic mechanisms

Academic Article


  • Little is known about the effects of combinatorial dietary compounds on the regulation of epigenetic mechanisms involved in breast cancer prevention. The human diet consists of a multitude of components, and there is a need to elucidate how certain compounds interact in collaboration. Withaferin A (WA), found in the Indian winter cherry and documented as a DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor, and sulforaphane (SFN), a well-known histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor found in cruciferous vegetables, are two epigenetic modifying compounds that have only recently been studied in conjunction. The use of DNMT and HDAC inhibitors to reverse the malignant expression of certain genes in breast cancer has shown considerable promise. Previously, we found that SFN + WA synergistically promote breast cancer cell death. Herein, we determined that these compounds inhibit cell cycle progression from S to G2 phase in MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this unique combination of epigenetic modifying compounds down-regulates the levels of Cyclin D1 and CDK4, and pRB; conversely, the levels of E2F mRNA and tumor suppressor p21 are increased independently of p53. We find these events coincide with an increase in unrestricted histone methylation. We propose SFN + WA-induced breast cancer cell death is attributed, in part, to epigenetic modifications that result in the modulated expression of key genes responsible for the regulation of cancer cell senescence.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Royston KJ; Paul B; Nozell S; Rajbhandari R; Tollefsbol TO
  • Start Page

  • 67
  • End Page

  • 74
  • Volume

  • 368
  • Issue

  • 1