Induction of ROS-independent DNA damage by curcumin leads to G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human papillary thyroid carcinoma BCPAP cells
Previously we found that curcumin, the active constituent of dietary spice turmeric, showed potent inhibitory effects on the cell growth of thyroid cancer cells. However, the detailed anti-cancer mechanism of curcumin is still unknown. In this study, we have reported that curcumin induces significant DNA damage in human papillary thyroid carcinoma BCPAP cells in a dose-dependent manner as evidenced by the upregulated phosphorylation of H2A.X at Ser139, which was further confirmed by the long tails in the comet assay and the increase in the number of TUNEL-positive cells. Subsequently, curcumin treatment caused a significant accumulation of cells at the G2/M phase that eventually resulted in a caspase-dependent apoptosis in BCPAP cells. DNA agarose gel electrophoresis revealed that curcumin-induced DNA damage in BCPAP cells was independent of DNA conformational change. Pretreatment with reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers failed to block the phosphorylation of H2A.X, suggesting the non-involvement of ROS in curcumin-mediated DNA damage. Interestingly, ATM/ATR activation by curcumin induced phosphorylation of Chk2 (Thr68) followed by that of Cdc25C (Ser216) and Cdc2 (Tyr15), and Cyclin B1 accumulation. In addition, the ATM-specific inhibitor KU-55933 reversed curcumin-induced phosphorylation of H2A.X. These results collectively show that curcumin treatment induced the DNA damage response via triggering an ATM-activated Chk2-Cdc25C-Cdc2 signaling pathway. These observations provide novel mechanisms and potential targets for the better understanding of the anti-cancer mechanisms of curcumin.