Although the possibility of developing cardiac steroids/cardiac glycosides as novel cancer therapeutic agents has been recognized, the mechanism of their anticancer activity is still not clear enough. Toad venom extract containing bufadienolides, which belong to cardiac steroids, has actually long been used as traditional Chinese medicine in clinic for cancer therapy in China. The cytotoxicity of arenobufagin, a bufadienolide isolated from toad venom, on human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells was checked. And, the protein expression profile of control HeLa cells and HeLa cells treated with arenobufagin for 48 h was analyzed using two-dimensional electrophoresis, respectively. Differently expressed proteins in HeLa cells treated with arenobufagin were identified and the pathways related to these proteins were mapped from KEGG database. Computational molecular docking was performed to verify the binding of arenobufagin and Na, K-ATPase. The effects of arenobufagin on Na, K-ATPase activity and proteasome activity of HeLa cells were checked. The protein-protein interaction network between Na, K-ATPase and proteasome was constructed and the expression of possible intermediate proteins ataxin-1 and translationally-controlled tumor protein in HeLa cells treated with arenobufagin was then checked. Arenobufagin induced apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest in HeLa cells. The cytotoxic effect of arenobufagin was associated with 25 differently expressed proteins including proteasome-related proteins, calcium ion binding-related proteins, oxidative stress-related proteins, metabolism-related enzymes and others. The results of computational molecular docking revealed that arenobufagin was bound in the cavity formed by the transmembrane alpha subunits of Na, K-ATPase, which blocked the pathway of extracellular Na+/K+ cation exchange and inhibited the function of ion exchange.
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