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The combination of TRAIL death receptor agonists and radiochemotherapy to treat advanced cancers continues to be investigated in clinical trials. We previously showed that normal cells with a functional DNA damage response (DDR) upregulate the expression of death-inducing receptor DR5/TRAILR2/TNFRSF10B in a p53-dependent manner that sensitizes them to treatment with DR5 agonists. However, it is unclear if targeting DR5 selectively sensitizes cancer cells to agonist treatment following exposure to DNA-damaging chemotherapy, and to what extent normal tissues are targeted. Here, we show that the combined administration of the DR5 agonistic monoclonal antibody (mAb) and chemotherapy to wild-type mice triggered synergistic gastrointestinal toxicities (GIT) that were associated with the death of Lgr5(+) crypt base columnar stem cells in a p53- and DR5-dependent manner. Furthermore, we confirmed that normal human epithelial cells treated with the human DR5-agonistic mAb and chemotherapeutic agents were also greatly sensitized to cell death. Interestingly, our data also indicated that genetic or pharmacologic targeting of Chk2 may counteract GIT without negatively affecting the antitumor responses of combined DR5 agonist/chemotherapy treatment, further linking the DDR to TRAIL death receptor signaling in normal cells. In conclusion, the combination of DR5-targeting agonistic mAbs with DNA damaging chemotherapy may pose a risk of developing toxicity-induced conditions, and the effects of mAb-based strategies on the dose-limiting toxicity of chemotherapy must be considered when establishing new combination therapies.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
PURPOSE - Preclinical studies show that inhibition of aurora kinases in melanoma tumors induces senescence and reduces tumor growth, but does not cause tumor regression. Additional preclinical models are needed to identify agents that will synergize with aurora kinase inhibitors to induce tumor regression.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - We combined treatment with an aurora kinase A inhibitor, MLN8237, with agents that activate death receptors (Apo2L/TRAIL or death receptor 5 agonists) and monitored the ability of this treatment to induce tumor apoptosis and melanoma tumor regression using human cell lines and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models.
RESULTS - We found that this combined treatment led to apoptosis and markedly reduced cell viability. Mechanistic analysis showed that the induction of tumor cell senescence in response to the AURKA inhibitor resulted in a decreased display of Apo2L/TRAIL decoy receptors and increased display of one Apo2L/TRAIL receptor (death receptor 5), resulting in enhanced response to death receptor ligand/agonists. When death receptors were activated in senescent tumor cells, both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways were induced independent of BRAF, NRAS, or p53 mutation status. Senescent tumor cells exhibited BID-mediated mitochondrial depolarization in response to Apo2L/TRAIL treatment. In addition, senescent tumor cells had a lower apoptotic threshold due to decreased XIAP and survivin expression. Melanoma tumor xenografts of one human cell line and one PDX displayed total blockage of tumor growth when treated with MLN8237 combined with DR5 agonist antibody.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings provide a strong rationale for combining senescence-inducing therapeutics with death receptor agonists for improved cancer treatment.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is commonly activated in colon cancer. mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) is a major downstream target of the PI3K/ATK pathway and activates protein synthesis by phosphorylating key regulators of messenger RNA translation and ribosome synthesis. Rapamycin analogs Everolimus and Temsirolimus are non-ATP-competitive mTORC1 inhibitors, and suppress proliferation and tumor angiogenesis and invasion. We now show that apoptosis plays a key role in their anti-tumor activities in colon cancer cells and xenografts through the DR5, FADD and caspase-8 axis, and is strongly enhanced by tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and 5-fluorouracil. The induction of DR5 by rapalogs is mediated by the ER stress regulator and transcription factor CHOP, but not the tumor suppressor p53, on rapid and sustained inhibition of 4E-BP1 phosphorylation, and attenuated by eIF4E expression. ATP-competitive mTOR/PI3K inhibitors also promote DR5 induction and FADD-dependent apoptosis in colon cancer cells. These results establish activation of ER stress and the death receptor pathway as a novel anticancer mechanism of mTOR inhibitors.
Glycine-N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is essential to preserve liver homeostasis. Cirrhotic patients show low expression of GNMT that is absent in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples. Accordingly, GNMT deficiency in mice leads to steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and HCC. Lack of GNMT triggers NK cell activation in GNMT(-/-) mice and depletion of TRAIL significantly attenuates acute liver injury and inflammation in these animals. Chronic inflammation leads to fibrogenesis, further contributing to the progression of chronic liver injury regardless of the etiology. The aim of our study is to elucidate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells in the progression of chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis. For this we generated double TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice in which we found that TRAIL deficiency efficiently protected the liver against chronic liver injury and fibrogenesis in the context of GNMT deficiency. Next, to better delineate the implication of TRAIL-producing NK cells during fibrogenesis we performed bile duct ligation (BDL) to GNMT(-/-) and TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice. In GNMT(-/-) mice, exacerbated fibrogenic response after BDL concurred with NK1.1(+) cell activation. Importantly, specific inhibition of TRAIL-producing NK cells efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-induced liver injury and fibrogenesis. Finally, TRAIL(-/-)/GNMT(-/-) mice showed significantly less fibrosis after BDL than GNMT(-/-) mice further underlining the relevance of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in mediating liver injury and fibrogenesis in GNMT(-/-) mice. Finally, in vivo silencing of DR5 efficiently protected GNMT(-/-) mice from BDL-liver injury and fibrogenesis, overall underscoring the key role of the TRAIL/DR5 axis in promoting fibrogenesis in the context of absence of GNMT. Overall, our work demonstrates that TRAIL-producing NK cells actively contribute to liver injury and further fibrogenesis in the pathological context of GNMT deficiency, a molecular scenario characteristic of chronic human liver disease.
Oncogenic mutations of ras and B-raf frequently occur in many cancer types and are critical for cell transformation and tumorigenesis. Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a cell surface pro-apoptotic death receptor for tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand and has been targeted in cancer therapy. The current study has demonstrated induction of DR5 expression by the oncogenic proteins Ras and B-Raf and revealed the underlying mechanisms. We demonstrated that both Ras and B-Raf induce DR5 expression by enforced expression of oncogenic Ras (e.g. H-Ras12V or K-Ras12V) or B-Raf (i.e. V600E) in cells and by analyzing gene expression array data generated from cancer cell lines and from human cancer tissues. This finding is further supported by our results that knockdown of endogenous K-Ras or B-Raf (V600E) reduced the expression of DR5. Importantly, we have elucidated that Ras induces DR5 expression through co-activation of ERK/RSK and JNK signaling pathways and subsequent cooperative effects among the transcriptional factors CHOP, Elk1, and c-Jun to enhance DR5 gene transcription. Moreover, we found that the majority of cancer cell lines highly sensitive to the DR5 agonistic antibody AMG655 have either Ras or B-Raf mutations. Our findings warrant further study on the biology of DR5 regulation by Ras and B-Raf, which may provide new insight into the biology of Ras and B-Raf, and on the potential impact of Ras or B-Raf mutations on the outcome of DR5-targeted cancer therapy.
Reovirus infection leads to apoptosis in both cultured cells and the murine central nervous system (CNS). NF-kappaB-driven transcription of proapoptotic cellular genes is required for the effector phase of the apoptotic response. Although both extrinsic death-receptor signaling pathways and intrinsic pathways involving mitochondrial injury are implicated in reovirus-induced apoptosis, mechanisms by which either of these pathways are activated and their relationship to NF-kappaB signaling following reovirus infection are unknown. The proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member, Bid, is activated by proteolytic cleavage following reovirus infection. To understand how reovirus integrates host signaling circuits to induce apoptosis, we examined proapoptotic signaling following infection of Bid-deficient cells. Although reovirus growth was not affected by the absence of Bid, cells lacking Bid failed to undergo apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that NF-kappaB activation is required for Bid cleavage and subsequent proapoptotic signaling. To examine the functional significance of Bid-dependent apoptosis in reovirus disease, we monitored fatal encephalitis caused by reovirus in the presence and absence of Bid. Survival of Bid-deficient mice was significantly enhanced in comparison to wild-type mice following either peroral or intracranial inoculation of reovirus. Decreased reovirus virulence in Bid-null mice was accompanied by a reduction in viral yield. These findings define a role for NF-kappaB-dependent cleavage of Bid in the cell death program initiated by viral infection and link Bid to viral virulence.
IFN regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) has been shown to suppress tumor development at least partly through regulating apoptosis of tumor cells; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying IRF8 regulation of apoptosis are still not fully understood. Here, we showed that disrupting IRF8 function resulted in inhibition of cytochrome c release, caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage in soft tissue sarcoma (STS) cells. Inhibition of the mitochondrion-dependent apoptosis signaling cascade is apparently due to blockage of caspase-8 and Bid activation. Analysis of signaling events upstream of caspase-8 revealed that disrupting IRF8 function dramatically increases FLIP mRNA stability, resulting in increased IRF8 protein level. Furthermore, primary myeloid cells isolated from IRF8-null mice also exhibited increased FLIP protein level, suggesting that IRF8 might be a general repressor of FLIP. Nuclear IRF8 protein was absent in 92% (55 of 60) of human STS specimens, and 99% (59 of 60) of human STS specimens exhibited FLIP expression, suggesting that the nuclear IRF8 protein level is inversely correlated with FLIP level in vivo. Silencing FLIP expression significantly increased human sarcoma cells to both FasL-induced and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis, and ectopic expression of IRF8 also significantly increased the sensitivity of these human sarcoma cells to FasL- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Taken together, our data suggest that IRF8 mediates FLIP expression level to regulate apoptosis and targeting IRF8 expression is a potentially effective therapeutic strategy to sensitize apoptosis-resistant human STS to apoptosis, thereby possibly overcoming chemoresistance of STS, currently a major obstacle in human STS therapy.
Androgen withdrawal induces the regression of human prostate cancers, but such cancers eventually become androgen-independent and metastasize. Thus, deciphering the mechanism of androgen withdrawal-induced apoptosis is critical to designing new therapies for prostate cancer. Previously, we showed that in the rat, castration-induced apoptosis is accompanied by a reduction in the expression of the apical caspase inhibitor FLICE-like inhibitory protein (FLIP). To test the functional role of FLIP in inhibiting prostate epithelial cell apoptosis, we employed the rat prostate epithelial cell line NRP-152, which differentiates to a secretory phenotype in a low-mitogen medium and then undergoes apoptosis following the addition of transforming growth factor beta1 (TGFbeta1), mimicking androgen withdrawal-induced apoptosis. FLIP levels decline with TGFbeta1 treatment, suggesting that apoptosis is mediated by caspase-8 and indeed the caspase inhibitor crmA blocks TGFbeta1-induced apoptosis. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of FLIP recapitulates and enhances TGFbeta1-induced cell death. NRP-152 cells stably transfected with constitutively expressed FLIP were refractory to TGFbeta1-induced apoptosis. TGFbeta1-induced caspase-3 activity is proportional to the level of cell death and inversely proportional to the level of FLIP expression in various clones. Moreover, neither caspase-3 nor PARP is cleaved in clones expressing high levels of FLIP. Furthermore, insulin, which inhibits differentiation, increases FLIP and inhibits TGFbeta-induced death in a FLIP-dependent manner. Although neither Fas-Fc, sTNFRII-Fc, nor DR5-Fc blocked TGFbeta1-induced cell death, there is a significant increase in tumor necrosis factor mRNA following TGFbeta stimulation, suggesting both an unexpected role for tumor necrosis factor in this model system and the possibility that FLIP blocks another unknown caspase-dependent mediator of apoptosis.
TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) is a cytokine that preferentially induces apoptosis in tumor cells compared with normal cells through two receptors (DR4 and DR5). Somatic mutations in these receptors have been found in different kinds of cancer; however, it is poorly understood how the mutations affect signaling. We found that point mutations (L334F, E326K, E338K, and K386N) that were identified in human tumors result in the DR5 receptor losing its ability to form a functional death-inducing signaling complex and induce apoptosis. The mutant receptors also have a "dominant negative" effect whereby they inhibit the ability of TRAIL to induce apoptosis through functional DR4 receptors. This dominant negative mechanism is achieved through competition for TRAIL binding as shown by experiments where the ability of the mutant DR5 receptor to bind with the ligand was abolished, thus restoring TRAIL signaling through DR4. The inhibitory effect on signaling through the wild-type DR4 protein can be overcome if the inhibitory mechanism is bypassed by using a DR4-agonistic antibody that is not subject to this competition. This study provides a molecular basis for the use of specific therapeutic agonists of TRAIL receptors in people whose tumors harbor somatic DR5 mutations.