Interferon-alpha sensitizes human hepatoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis through DR5 upregulation and NF-kappa B inactivation

Masaya Shigeno, Kazuhiko Nakao, Tatsuki Ichikawa, Kasumi Suzuki, Atsushi Kawakami, Seigou Abiru, Seiji Miyazoe, Yuichi Nakagawa, Hiroki Ishikawa, Keisuke Hamasaki, Keisuke Nakata, Nobuko Ishii, Katsumi Eguchi
Oncogene 2003 March 20, 22 (11): 1653-62
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), a member of the TNF superfamily, induces apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells with little or no effect on normal cells. Human hepatoma cells, however, are resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Since interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) is capable of enhancing TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis in certain cancer cells, we evaluated the effect of IFN-alpha on TRAIL-induced apoptosis of human hepatoma cells. IFN-alpha pretreatment enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis of HuH-7 and Hep3B cells, in which IFN-alpha upregulated the expression of DR5, a death receptor of TRAIL, and downregulated the expression of survivin, which has an antiapoptotic function. In contrast, IFN-alpha did not enhance TRAIL-induced apoptosis of HepG2 cells, in which expression of DR5 and survivin was not affected by IFN-alpha. On the other hand, TRAIL activated NF-kappa B composed of RelA-p50 heterodimer, a key transcription factor regulating cell survival, in HuH-7 and HepG2 cells. However, IFN-alpha pretreatment repressed the TRAIL-mediated activation of NF-kappaB and decreased its transcriptional activity in HuH-7 but not in HepG2 cells. Moreover, IFN-alpha pretreatment clearly augmented TRAIL-mediated caspase-8 activation in HuH-7 cells. Our results suggest that IFN-alpha could sensitize certain human hepatoma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis by stimulating its death signaling and by repressing the survival function in these cells.

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