Rac-dependent doubling of HeLa cell area and impairment of cell migration and cell cycle by compounds from Iris germanica

Michal Halpert, Mohamad Abu-Abied, Dror Avisar, Yoni Moskovitz, Osnat Altshuler, Avner Cohen, Mira Weissberg, Joseph Riov, Hugo E. Gottlieb, Avichai Perl, Einat Sadot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Plants are an infinite source of bioactive compounds. We screened the Israeli flora for compounds that interfere with the organization of the actin cytoskeleton. We found an activity in lipidic extract from Iris germanica that was able to increase HeLa cell area and adhesion and augment the formation of actin stress fibers. This effect was not observed when Ref52 fibroblasts were tested and was not the result of disruption of microtubules. Further, the increase in cell area was Rac1-dependent, and the iris extract led to slight Rac activation. Inhibitor of RhoA kinase did not interfere with the ability of the iris extract to increase HeLa cell area. The increase in HeLa cell area in the presence of iris extract was accompanied by impairment of cell migration and arrest of the cell cycle at G1 although the involvement of Rac1 in these processes is not clear. Biochemical verification of the extract based on activity-mediated fractionation and nuclear magnetic resonance analysis revealed that the active compounds belong to the group of iridals, a known group of triterpenoid. Purified iripallidal was able to increase cell area of both HeLa and SW480 cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-797
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Zohar Kerem (Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot) for his help in the isolation of the iris active compounds. This research was financed by the foundation of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Israel.


  • Actin
  • Cell spreading
  • HeLa cells
  • Iridals
  • Iripallidal
  • Iris germanica


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