BackgroundMethuosis is a unique form of non-apoptotic cell death triggered by alterations in the trafficking of clathrin-independent endosomes, ultimately leading to extreme vacuolization and rupture of the cell.
ResultsHere we describe a novel chalcone-like molecule, 3-(2-methyl-1H- indol-3-yl)-1-(4-pyridinyl)-2-propen-1-one (MIPP) that induces cell death with the hallmarks of methuosis. MIPP causes rapid accumulation of vacuoles derived from macropinosomes, based on time-lapse microscopy and labeling with extracellular fluid phase tracers. Vacuolization can be blocked by the cholesterol-interacting compound, filipin, consistent with the origin of the vacuoles from non-clathrin endocytic compartments. Although the vacuoles rapidly acquire some characteristics of late endosomes (Rab7, LAMP1), they remain distinct from lysosomal and autophagosomal compartments, suggestive of a block at the late endosome/lysosome boundary. MIPP appears to target steps in the endosomal trafficking pathway involving Rab5 and Rab7, as evidenced by changes in the activation states of these GTPases. These effects are specific, as other GTPases (Rac1, Arf6) are unaffected by the compound. Cells treated with MIPP lose viability within 2-3 days, but their nuclei show no evidence of apoptotic changes. Inhibition of caspase activity does not protect the cells, consistent with a non-apoptotic death mechanism. U251 glioblastoma cells selected for temozolomide resistance showed sensitivity to MIPP-induced methuosis that was comparable to the parental cell line.
ConclusionsMIPP might serve as a prototype for new drugs that could be used to induce non-apoptotic death in cancers that have become refractory to agents that work through DNA damage and apoptotic mechanisms.
SUBMITTER: Overmeyer JH