Functional evaluation of a fluorescent schweinfurthin: Mechanism of cytotoxicity and intracellular quantification

Craig H. Kuder, Ryan M. Sheehy, Jeffrey D. Neighbors, David F. Wiemer, Raymond J. Hohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Schweinfurthins are potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth, especially against human central nervous system tumor lines such as SF-295 cells. However, the mechanisms through which these compounds impede cell growth are not fully understood. In an effort to understand the basis for the effects of schweinfurthins, we present a fluorescent schweinfurthin, 3-deoxyschweinfurthin B-like p-nitro-bis-stilbene (3dSB-PNBS), which displays biological activity similar to that of 3-deoxyschweinfurthin B (3dSB). These two schweinfurthins retain the unique differential activity of the natural schweinfurthins, as evidenced by the spindle-like morphological changes induced in SF-295 cells and the unaltered appearance of human lung carcinoma A549 cells. We demonstrate that incubation with 3dSB or 3dSB-PNBS results in cleavage of poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) and caspase-9, both markers of apoptosis. Coincubation of 3dSB or 3dSB-PNBS with the caspase-9 inhibitor (Z)-Leu-Glu(O-methyl)-His-Asp(O- methyl)-fluoromethylketone prevents PARP cleavage. Therapeutic agents that induce apoptosis often activate cellular stress pathways. A marker for multiple stress pathways is the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α, which is phosphorylated in response to 3dSB and 3dSB-PNBS treatment. Glucose-regulated protein 78 and protein disulfide isomerase, both endoplasmic reticulum chaperones, are up-regulated with schweinfurthin exposure. Using the fluorescent properties of 3dSB-PNBS and dimethoxyphenyl-p-nitro-bis-stilbene (DMP-PNBS), a control compound, we show that the intracellular levels of 3dSB-PNBS are higher than those of Rhodamine 123 or DMP-PNBS in SF-295 and A549 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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