The tumor suppressor Spred2 (Sprouty-related EVH1 domain-2) induces cell death in a variety of cancers. However, the underlying mechanism remains to be elucidated. Here we show that Spred2 induces caspase-independent but autophagy-dependent cell death in human cervical carcinoma HeLa and lung cancer A549 cells. We demonstrate that ectopic Spred2 increased both the conversion of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3), GFP-LC3 puncta formation and p62/SQSTM1 degradation in A549 and HeLa cells. Conversely, knockdown of Spred2 in tumor cells inhibited upregulation of autophagosome maturation induced by the autophagy inducer Rapamycin, which could be reversed by the rescue Spred2. These data suggest that Spred2 promotes autophagy in tumor cells. Mechanistically, Spred2 co-localized and interacted with LC3 via the LC3-interacting region (LIR) motifs in its SPR domain. Mutations in the LIR motifs or deletion of the SPR domain impaired Spred2-mediated autophagosome maturation and tumor cell death, indicating that functional LIR is required for Spred2 to trigger tumor cell death. Additionally, Spred2 interacted and co-localized with p62/SQSTM1 through its SPR domain. Furthermore, the co-localization of Spred2, p62 and LAMP2 in HeLa cells indicates that p62 may be involved in Spred2-mediated autophagosome maturation. Inhibition of autophagy using the lysosomal inhibitor chloroquine, reduced Spred2-mediated HeLa cell death. Silencing the expression of autophagy-related genes ATG5, LC3 or p62 in HeLa and A549 cells gave similar results, suggesting that autophagy is required for Spred2-induced tumor cell death. Collectively, these data indicate that Spred2 induces tumor cell death in an autophagy-dependent manner.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Oncotarget, v. 7, no. 18, p. 25652-25667.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (81372471 and 81572707 to SM, 31271480 to XB, 81125010 to ZY).

8357-126967-1-SP.pdf (2175 kB)
Supplementary Materials: Figure S1-S4, Table S1-S2