Mechanical regulation of cancer cell apoptosis and autophagy: Roles of bone morphogenetic protein receptor, Smad1/5, and p38 MAPK

Sheng Chieh Lien, Shun Fu Chang, Pei Ling Lee, Shu Yi Wei, Margaret Dah Tsyr Chang, Jang Yang Chang, Jeng Jiann Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical forces induced by interstitial fluid flow in and surrounding tissues and by blood/lymphatic flow in vessels may modulate cancer cell invasion and metastasis and anticancer drug delivery. Our previous study demonstrated that laminar flow-induced shear stress induces G2/M arrest in tumor cells. However, whether shear stress modulates final cell fate remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of flow-induced shear stress in modulating the survival of four human tumor cell lines, i.e., Hep3B hepatocarcinoma cells, MG63 osteosarcoma cells, SCC25 oral squamous carcinoma cells, and A549 carcinomic alveolar basal epithelial cells. Laminar shear stress (LSS) ranging from 0.5 to 12dyn/cm2 induced death of these four tumor cell lines. In contrast to LSS at 0.5dyn/cm2, oscillatory shear stress (OSS) at 0.5±4dyn/cm2 cannot induce cancer cell death. Both LSS and OSS had no effect on human normal hepatocyte, lung epithelial, and endothelial cells. Application of LSS to these four cell lines increased the percentage of cells stained positively for annexin V-FITC, with up-regulations of cleaved caspase-8, -9, and -3, and PARP. In addition, LSS also induced Hep3B cell autophagy, as detected by acidic vesicular organelle formation, LC3B transformation, and p62/SQSTM1 degradation. By transfecting with small interfering RNA, we found that the shear-induced apoptosis and autophagy are mediated by bone morphogenetic protein receptor type (BMPR)-IB, BMPR-specific Smad1 and Smad5, and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in Hep3B cells. Our findings provide insights into the molecular mechanisms by which shear stress induces apoptosis and autophagy in tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3124-3133
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • BMP receptor
  • MAPK
  • Mechanical force
  • Smad1/5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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