We previously demonstrated that β-D-xylopyranosyl-(1→3)-β-D-glucuronopyranosyl echinocystic acid (codonoposide 1c), a biologically active compound isolated from the roots of Codonopsis lanceolata, is cytotoxic to cancer cells. In the present study, we investigated the effects of codonoposide 1c on the induction of apoptosis, and its putative action pathway in HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells. Codonoposide 1c-treated HL-60 cells displayed several features of apoptosis, including DNA fragmentation, formation of DNA ladders by agarose gel electrophoresis, and externalization of annexin-V targeted phosphatidylserine (PS) residues. We observed that codonoposide 1c caused activation of caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-3. A broad caspase inhibitor (z-VAD-fmk), caspase-8 inhibitor (z-IETD-fmk), and caspase-3 inhibitor (z-DEVD-fmk) almost completely suppressed codonoposide 1c-induced DNA fragmentation. We further found that codonoposide 1c induces mitochondrial translocation of Bid from cytosol, reduction of cytosolic Bax, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Interestingly, codonoposide 1c also triggered the mitochondrial release of Smac/DIABLO (second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases/direct inhibitor of apoptosis-binding protein with a low isoelectric point) into cytosol, and a reduction in X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP). Taken together, our data indicate that codonoposide 1c is a potent inducer of apoptosis and facilates its activity via Bid cleavage and translocation to mitochondria, Bax reduction in cytosol, release of cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO into the cytosol, and subsequently caspase activation, providing a potential mechanism for the cytotoxic activity of codonoposide 1c.
2005 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan