2-methoxyestradiol up-regulates death receptor 5 and induces apoptosis through activation of the extrinsic pathway

Theresa M LaVallee, Xiaoguo H Zhan, Michelle S Johnson, Chris J Herbstritt, Glenn Swartz, Mark S Williams, Wendy A Hembrough, Shawn J Green, Victor S Pribluda
Cancer Research 2003 January 15, 63 (2): 468-75
2-Methoxyestradiol (2ME2), a natural metabolite of estradiol, is a potent antitumor and antiangiogenic agent. In vitro, 2ME2 inhibits the proliferation of a wide variety of cell lines and primary cultures, and in numerous models in vivo, it has been shown to be an effective inhibitor of tumor growth and angiogenesis. 2ME2 is currently in several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials under the name Panzem. Although various molecular targets have been proposed for this compound, the mechanism by which 2ME2 exerts its effects is still uncertain. This study shows that 2ME2 uses the extrinsic pathway for induction of apoptosis. 2ME2 treatment results in up-regulation of death receptor 5 (DR5) protein expression in vitro and in vivo and renders cells more sensitive to the cytotoxic activities of the DR5 ligand tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). 2ME2-induced apoptosis requires caspase activation and kinetic studies show the sequential activation of caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-3. Blockage of death receptor signaling by expression of dominant-negative Fas-associated death domain severely attenuates the ability of 2ME2 to induce apoptosis. Because 2ME2 administration has not manifested dose-limiting toxicity in the clinic, DR5 expression may serve as a surrogate marker for biological response.

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