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    We used computational and experimental biology approaches to identify candidate mechanisms of action of aTraditional Chinese Medicine, Compound Kushen Injection (CKI), in a breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-231). Because CKI is a complex mixture of plant secondary metabolites, we used a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) fractionation and reconstitution approach to define chemical fractions required for CKI to induce apoptosis. The initial fractionation separated major from minor compounds, and it showed that major compounds accounted for little of the activity of CKI. Furthermore, removal of no single major compound altered the effect of CKI on cell viability and apoptosis. However, simultaneous removal of two major compounds identified oxymatrine and oxysophocarpine as critical with respect to CKI activity. Transcriptome analysis was used to correlate compound removal with gene expression and phenotype data. Many compounds in CKI are required to trigger apoptosis but significant modulation of its activity is conferred by a small number of compounds. In conclusion, CKI may be typical of many plant based extracts that contain many compounds in that no single compound is responsible for all of the bioactivity of the mixture and that many compounds interact in a complex fashion to influence a network containing many targets.


    T N Aung, S Nourmohammadi, Z Qu, Y Harata-Lee, J Cui, H Y Shen, A J Yool, T Pukala, Hong Du, R D Kortschak, W Wei, D L Adelson. Fractional Deletion of Compound Kushen Injection Indicates Cytokine Signaling Pathways are Critical for its Perturbation of the Cell Cycle. Scientific reports. 2019 Oct 02;9(1):14200

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    PMID: 31578346

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