Id1, inhibitor of differentiation, is a key protein mediating anti-tumor responses of gamma-tocotrienol in breast cancer cells

Yap WN, Zaiden N, Tan YL, Ngoh CP, Zhang XW, Wong YC, Ling MT, Yap YL

Gamma-tocotrienol has demonstrated anti-proliferative effect on breast cancer (BCa) cells, but mechanisms involved are largely unknown. This study aimed at deciphering the molecular pathways responsible for its activity. Our results showed that treatment of BCa cells with gamma-tocotrienol resulted in induction of apoptosis as evidenced by activation of pro-caspases, accumulation of sub-G1 cells and DNA fragmentations. Examination of the pro-survival genes revealed that the gamma-tocotrienol-induced cell death was associated with suppression of Id1 and NF-kappaB through modulation of their upstream regulators (Src, Smad1/5/8, Fak and LOX). Meanwhile, gamma-tocotrienol treatment also resulted in the induction of JNK signaling pathway and inhibition of JNK activity by specific inhibitor partially blocked the effect of gamma-tocotrienol. Furthermore, synergistic effect was observed when cells were co-treated with gamma-tocotrienol and Docetaxel. Interestingly, in cells that treated with gamma-tocotrienol, alpha-tocopherol or beta-aminoproprionitrile were found to partially restore Id1 expression. Meanwhile, this restoration of Id1 was found to protect the cells from gamma-tocotrienol induced apoptosis. Consistent outcome was observed in cells ectopically transfected with the Id-1 gene. Our results suggested that the anti-proliferative and chemosensitization effect of gamma-tocotrienol on BCa cells may be mediated through downregulation of Id1 protein.