Drug Discov Ther. 2015;9(4):289-295. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2015.01041)

Combination of immunoprecipitation (IP)-ATP_Glo kinase assay and melanogenesis for the assessment of potent and safe PAK1-blockers in cell culture.

Nguyen BCQ, Be Tu PT, Tawata S, Maruta H


Cucurbitacin I (CBI) is a triterpene from a bitter melon called Goya grown in Okinawa, Japan, and directly inhibits both the Tyr-kinase JAK2 and the G protein RAC, leading to the inactivation of PAK1 (RAC/CDC42-activated kinase 1). Bio 30, a propolis produced in New Zealand, contains CAPE (caffeic acid phenethyl ester) as the major anti-cancer ingredient which directly down-regulates RAC, leading to the inactivation of PAK1. Since PAK1 is essential for the growth of RAS cancer cells such as A549 cell line which carry an oncogenic K-RAS mutant, and the melanogenesis in skin cells, here using these PAK1-blockers as model compounds, we introduce a new approach to the quick assessment of PAK1-blockers in cell culture. First, combining the immuno-precipitation (IP) of PAK1 from cell lysate and the in vitro ATP_Glo kinase assay kit (called "Macaroni-Western" assay), we confirmed that both CBI and Bio 30 inactivate PAK1 in A549 lung cancer cells in 24 h, and inhibit their PAK1-dependent growth in 72 h. Furthermore, we verified that CBI inhibits the PAK1/PAK4-dependent melanogenesis in melanoma cells by far more than 50%, while Bio 30 inhibits the melanogenesis only by 50%, with only a merginal effect on their growth per se. Since the "Macaroni-Western" kinase assay and melanogenesis are both rather simple and quick, the combination of these two cell culture assays would be highly useful for selecting both "potent" (highly cell-permeable) and "safe" (non-toxic) natural or synthetic PAK1-blockers.

KEYWORDS: PAK1, melanogenesis, immunoprecipitation, ATP_Glo kinase assay, cucurbitacin, propolis

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