Cucurbitacin B and I inhibits colon cancer growth by targeting the Notch signaling pathway

Prasad Dandawate, Dharmalingam Subramaniam, Peyton Panovich, David Standing, Balaji Krishnamachary, Gaurav Kaushik, Sufi Mary Thomas, Animesh Dhar, Scott J. Weir, Roy A. Jensen, Shrikant Anant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have the ability to self-renew and induce drug resistance and recurrence in colorectal cancer (CRC). As current chemotherapy doesn’t eliminate CSCs completely, there is a need to identify novel agents to target them. We investigated the effects of cucurbitacin B (C-B) or I (C-I), a natural compound that exists in edible plants (bitter melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini), against CRC. C-B or C-I inhibited proliferation, clonogenicity, induced G2/M cell-cycle arrest and caspase-mediated-apoptosis of CRC cells. C-B or C-I suppressed colonosphere formation and inhibited expression of CD44, DCLK1 and LGR5. These compounds inhibited notch signaling by reducing the expression of Notch 1–4 receptors, their ligands (Jagged 1-2, DLL1,3,4), γ-secretase complex proteins (Presenilin 1, Nicastrin), and downstream target Hes-1. Molecular docking showed that C-B or C-I binds to the ankyrin domain of Notch receptor, which was confirmed using the cellular thermal shift assay. Finally, C-B or C-I inhibited tumor xenograft growth in nude mice and decreased the expression of CSC-markers and notch signaling proteins in tumor tissues. Together, our study suggests that C-B and C-I inhibit colon cancer growth by inhibiting Notch signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1290
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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