Author(s): Zhang WB, Wang Z, Shu F, Jin YH, Liu HY
Methylating drugs such as temozolomide (TMZ) are widely used in the treatment of brain tumors including malignant glioblastoma. The mechanism of TMZ-induced glioblastoma cell death and apoptosis, however, is not fully understood. Here, we tested the potential involvement of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in this process. We found that methylating agents TMZ and N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine induce AMPK activation in primary cultured human glioblastoma and glioblastoma cell lines. TMZ-induced O(6)-methylguanine production is involved in AMPK activation. O(6)-benzylguanine, an O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, enhances TMZ-induced O(6)-methylguanine production, leading to enhanced reactive oxygen species production, which serves as an upstream signal for AMPK activation. Activation of AMPK is involved in TMZ-induced glioblastoma cell death and apoptosis. AMPK inhibitor (Compound C) or AMPKα siRNA knockdown inhibits TMZ-induced glioblastoma cell death and apoptosis, whereas AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside enhances it. In further studies, we found that activation of AMPK is involved in TMZ-induced p53 activation and subsequent p21, Noxa, and Bax up-regulation. Activation of AMPK by TMZ also inhibits mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling and promotes anti-apoptosis protein Bcl-2 down-regulation, which together mediate TMZ-induced pro-cell apoptosis effects. Our study suggests that activation of AMPK by TMZ contributes to glioblastoma cell apoptosis, probably by promoting p53 activation and inhibiting mTORC1 signaling.