Targeting cell cycle regulators has been a suggested mechanism for therapeutic cancer strategies. We report here that the bichalcone analog TSWU-CD4 induces S phase arrest of human cancer cells by inhibiting the formation of cyclin A–phospho (p)-cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2, threonine [Thr] 39) complexes, independent of mutant p53 expression. Ectopic expression of CDK2 (T39E), which mimics phosphorylation of the Thr 39 residue of CDK2, partially rescues the cells from TSWU-CD4-induced S phase arrest, whereas phosphorylation-deficient CDK2 (T39A) expression regulates cell growth with significant S phase arrest and enhances TSWU-CD4-triggered S phase arrest. Decreased histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) expression after TSWU-CD4 treatment was demonstrated, and TSWU-CD4 induced S phase arrest and inhibitory effects on cyclin A expression and CDK2 Thr 39 phosphorylation, while cyclin A–p-CDK2 (Thr 39) complex formation was suppressed by ectopic wild-type HDAC3 expression. The co-transfection of CDK2 (T39E) along with HDAC3 completely restored cyclin A expression, Thr 39-phosphorylated CDK2, cyclin A–p-CDK2 (Thr 39) complex formation, and the S phase population to normal levels. Protein kinase B (Akt) inactivation was required for TSWU-CD4-induced S phase cell cycle arrest, because constitutively active Akt1 blocks the induction of S phase arrest and the suppression of cyclin A and HDAC3 expression, CDK2 Thr 39 phosphorylation, and cyclin A–p-CDK2 (Thr 39) complex formation by TSWU-CD4. Taken together, our results indicate that TSWU-CD4 induces S phase arrest by inhibiting Akt-mediated HDAC3 expression and CDK2 Thr 39 phosphorylation to suppress the formation of cyclin A–p-CDK2 (Thr 39) complexes.
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