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An Ursolic Acid Derived Small Molecule Triggers Cancer Cell Death through Hyperstimulation of Macropinocytosis

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posted on 05.07.2017, 00:00 by Lin Sun, Bin Li, Xiaohui Su, Ge Chen, Yaqin Li, Linqian Yu, Li Li, Wanguo Wei
Macropinocytosis is a transient endocytosis that internalizes extracellular fluid and particles into vacuoles. Recent studies suggest that hyperstimulation of macropinocytosis can induce a novel nonapoptotic cell death, methuosis. In this report, we describe the identification of an ursolic acid derived small molecule (compound 17), which induces cancer cell death through hyperstimulation of macropinocytosis. 17 causes the accumulation of vacuoles derived from macropinosomes based on transmission electron microscopy, time-lapse microscopy, and labeling with extracellular fluid phase tracers. The vacuoles induced by 17 separate from other cytoplasmic compartments but acquire some characteristics of late endosomes and lysosomes. Inhibiting hyperstimulation of macropinocytosis with the specific inhibitor amiloride blocks cell death, implicating that 17 leads to cell death via macropinocytosis, which is coincident with methuosis. Our results uncovered a novel cell death pathway involved in the activity of 17, which may provide a basis for further development of natural-product-derived scaffolds for drugs that trigger cancer cell death by methuosis.