Alisertib induces G2/M arrest, apoptosis, and autophagy via PI3K/Akt/mTOR-and p38 MAPK-mediated pathways in human glioblastoma cells

Zheng Liu, Feng Wang, Zhi Wei Zhou, He Chun Xia, Xin Yu Wang, Yin Xue Yang, Zhi Xu He, Tao Sun, Shu Feng Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common brain tumor with poor response to current therapeutics. Alisertib (ALS), a second-generation selective Aurora kinase A (AURKA) inhibitor, has shown potent anticancer effects on solid tumors in animal studies. This study aimed to investigate the killing effect of ALS on GBM cell line DAOY and the possible underlying mechanisms using both bioinformatic and cell-based approaches. Our molecular docking showed that ALS preferentially bound AURKA over AURKB via hydrogen bond formation, charge interaction, and π-π stacking. ALS also bound key regulating proteins of cell cycle, apoptosis and autophagy, such as cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1/CDC2), CDK2, cyclin B1, p27 Kip1, p53, cytochrome C, cleaved caspase 3, Bax, Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), protein kinase B (Akt), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), 5’-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), beclin 1, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), and microtubule-associated protein light chain 3 (LC3). ALS exhibited potent growth-inhibitory, pro-apoptotic, and pro-autophagic effects on DAOY cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Notably, ALS remarkably induced G2/M arrest mainlyvia regulating the expression of CDK1/CDC2, CDK2, cyclin B1, p27 Kip1, and p53 in DAOY cells. ALS significantly induced the expression of mitochondria-mediated pro-apoptotic proteins such as Baxbut inhibited the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl, with a significant increase in the release of cytochrome C and the activation of caspases 3 and 9. ALS also induced PI3K/Akt/ mTOR and p38 MAPK signaling pathways while activating the AMPK signaling pathway. Taken together, these findings indicate that ALS exerts a potent inhibitory effect on cell proliferation and induces mitochondria-dependent apoptosis and autophagy with the involvement of PI3K/Akt/mTOR-and p38 MAPK-mediated signaling pathways in DAOY cells. ALS is a promising anticancer agent for GBM treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberAJTR0042361
Pages (from-to)845-873
Number of pages29
JournalAmerican Journal of Translational Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Alisertib
  • Apoptosis
  • Aurora kinase A
  • Aurora kinase B
  • Autophagy
  • Cell cycle
  • DAOY cell
  • Glioblastoma
  • Hydrogen bond
  • Molecular docking
  • PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research


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