Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor family of cytokines that induces apoptosis in some tumor cells but not in normal cells. Unfortunately, many human cancer cell lines are refractory to TRAIL-induced cell death, and the molecular mechanisms underlying resistance are unclear. Here we report that TRAIL resistance was reversed in human bladder and prostate cancer cell lines by the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (PS-341, Velcade). Synergistic induction of apoptosis occurred within 4 to 6 hours in cells treated with TRAIL plus bortezomib and was associated with accumulation of p21 WAF-1/Cip-1 (p21) and inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) activity. Roscovitine, a specific cdk1/2 inhibitor, also sensitized cells to TRAIL. Silencing p21 expression reduced levels of DNA fragmentation by 50% in cells treated with bortezomib and TRAIL, confirming that p21 was required for the response. Analysis of the TRAIL pathway revealed that caspase-8 processing was enhanced in a p21-dependent fashion in cells exposed to TRAIL and bortezomib as compared with cells treated with TRAIL alone. Thus, all downstream components of the pathway (Bid cleavage, cytochrome c release, and caspase-3 activation) were amplified. These data strongly suggest that p21-mediated cdk inhibition promotes TRAIL sensitivity via caspase-8 activation and that TRAIL and bortezomib should be combined in appropriate in vivo models as a possible approach to solid tumor therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research