Kaempferol targets RSK2 and MSK1 to Suppress UV radiation-induced skin cancer

Zigang Dong, Ke Yao, Hanyong Chen, Kangdong Liu, Alyssa Langfald, Ge Yang, Yi Zhang, Dong Hoon Yu, Myoung Ok Kim, Mee Hyun Lee, Haitao Li, Ki Beom Bae, Hong Gyum Kim, Wei Ya Ma, Ann M. Bode, Ziming Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Solar UV (SUV) irradiation is a major factor in skin carcinogenesis, the most common form of cancer in the United States. The MAPK cascades are activated by SUV irradiation. The 90 kDa ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) and mitogen and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK) proteins constitute a family of protein kinases that mediate signal transduction downstream of the MAPK cascades. In this study, phosphorylation of RSK and MSK1 was upregulated in human squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and SUV-treated mouse skin. Kaempferol, a natural flavonol, found in tea, broccoli, grapes, apples, and other plant sources, is known to have anticancer activity, but its mechanisms and direct target(s) in cancer chemoprevention are unclear. Kinase array results revealed that kaempferol inhibited RSK2 and MSK1. Pull-down assay results, ATP competition, and in vitro kinase assay data revealed that kaempferol interacts with RSK2 and MSK1 at the ATP-binding pocket and inhibits their respective kinase activities. Mechanistic investigations showed that kaempferol suppresses RSK2 and MSK1 kinase activities to attenuate SUV-induced phosphorylation of cAMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) and histone H3 in mouse skin cells. Kaempferol was a potent inhibitor of SUV-induced mouse skin carcinogenesis. Further analysis showed that skin from the kaempferol-treated group exhibited a substantial reduction in SUV-induced phosphorylation of CREB, c- Fos, and histone H3. Overall, our results identify kaempferol as a safe and novel chemopreventive agent against SUV-induced skin carcinogenesis that acts by targeting RSK2 and MSK1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-967
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Association for Cancer Research.


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