Cordyceps militaris Exerts Antitumor Effect on Carboplatin-Resistant Ovarian Cancer via Activation of ATF3/TP53 Signaling In Vitro and In Vivo

Eunbi Jo, Hyun Jin Jang, Kyeong E. Yang, Min S. Jang, Yang H. Huh, Hwa Seung Yoo, Jun Soo Park, Ik Soon Jang, Soo J. Park

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to investigate the effect of Cordyceps militaris extract on the proliferation and apoptosis of carboplatin- resistant SKOV-3 and determine the underlying mechanisms for overcoming carboplatin resistance in human ovarian cancer. We cultured the carboplatin-resistant SKOV-3 cells in vitro until the exponential growth phase and then treated with different concentrations of C. militaris for 24, 48, and 72 hours. We performed cell proliferation assay, cell morphological change assessment using transmission electron microscopy, apoptosis assay, and immunoblotting to measure the protein expression of caspase-3 and -8, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP)-1, B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2, and activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3)/TP53 signaling-related proteins. As a result, C. militaris reduced the viability of carboplatin-resistant SKOV-3 and induced morphological disruptions in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The gene expression profiles indicated a reprogramming pattern of the previously known and unknown genes and transcription factors associated with the action of TCTN3 on carboplatin-resistant SKOV-3 cells. We also confirmed the C. militaris-induced activation of the ATF3/TP53 pathway. Immunoblotting indicated that cotreatment of C. militaris and carboplatin-mediated ATF3/TP53 upregulation induced apoptosis in the carboplatin-resistant SKOV-3 cells, which are involved in the serial activation of pro-apoptotic proteins, including Bcl-2, Bax, caspases, and PARP-1. Further, when the ATF3 and TP53 expression increased, the CHOP and PUMA expressions were upregulated. Consequently, the upregulated CHOP/PUMA expression activated the positive regulation of the apoptotic signaling pathway. In addition, it decreased the Bcl-2 expression, leading to marked ovarian cancer cells sensitive to carboplatin by enhancing apoptosis. We then corroborated these results using in vivo experiments. Taken together, C. militaris inhibits carboplatin-resistant SKOV-3 cell proliferation and induces apoptosis possibly through ATF3/TP53 signaling upregulation and CHOP/PUMA activation. Therefore, our findings provide new insights into the treatment of carboplatin-resistant ovarian cancer using C. militaris.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNatural product communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2017R1D1A1B03034936, 2019R1F1A1058077).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Plant Science
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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