Modification of cysteine 179 of IκBα kinase by nimbolide leads to down-regulation of NF-κB-regulated cell survival and proliferative proteins and sensitization of tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents

Academic Article


  • Reverse pharmacology, also called the "bedside to bench" approach, that deals with new uses for a well known molecular entity has been used extensively in cancer drug development to identify novel compounds and delineate their mechanisms of action. Here, we show that nimbolide, a triterpenoid isolated from Azadirachta indica, enhanced the apoptosis induced by inflammatory cytokines and chemotherapeutic agents in tumor cells. This limonoid abrogated the expression of proteins associated with cell survival (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, IAP-1, and IAP-2), proliferation (cyclin D1), invasion (MMP-9), and angiogenesis (VEGF), all regulated by nuclear factor (NF)-κB. Nimbolide inhibited the activation of NF-κB induced by carcinogens and inflammatory stimuli. Constitutively active NF-κB found in most tumor cells was also inhibited. We found that suppression of NF-κB activation by nimbolide was caused by inhibition of IκB kinase (IKK), which led to suppression of IκBα phosphorylation and degradation, nuclear translocation, DNA binding, and gene transcription. Reducing agent reversed the action of the limonoid, suggesting the involvement of a cysteine residue. Replacement of Cys179 of IKK-β with alanine abolished the effect of nimbolide, suggesting that Cys179 plays a critical role in inhibiting the NF-κB activation. Overall, our results indicate that nimbolide can sensitize tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents through interaction with IKK, leading to inhibition of NF-κB-regulated proteins. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gupta SC; Prasad S; Reuter S; Kannappan R; Yadav VR; Ravindran J; Hema PS; Chaturvedi MM; Nair M; Aggarwal BB
  • Start Page

  • 35406
  • End Page

  • 35417
  • Volume

  • 285
  • Issue

  • 46