c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase-dependent upregulation of DR5 mediates cooperative induction of apoptosis by perifosine and TRAIL

Lei Fu, Yi-Dan Lin, Heath A Elrod, Ping Yue, Youtake Oh, Bo Li, Hui Tao, Georgia Z Chen, Dong M Shin, Fadlo R Khuri, Shi-Yong Sun
Molecular Cancer 2010 December 20, 9: 315

BACKGROUND: Perifosine, an alkylphospholipid tested in phase II clinical trials, modulates the extrinsic apoptotic pathway and cooperates with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) to augment apoptosis. The current study focuses on revealing the mechanisms by which perifosine enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis.

RESULTS: The combination of perifosine and TRAIL was more active than each single agent alone in inducing apoptosis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells and inhibiting the growth of xenografts. Interestingly, perifosine primarily increased cell surface levels of DR5 although it elevated the expression of both DR4 and DR5. Blockade of DR5, but not DR4 upregulation, via small interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited perifosine/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Perifosine increased phosphorylated c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and c-Jun levels, which were paralleled with DR4 and DR5 induction. However, only DR5 upregulaiton induced by perifosine could be abrogated by both the JNK inhibitor SP600125 and JNK siRNA. The antioxidants, N-acetylcysteine and glutathione, but not vitamin C or tiron, inhibited perifosine-induced elevation of p-c-Jun, DR4 and DR5. Moreover, no increased production of reactive oxygen species was detected in perifosine-treated cells although reduced levels of intracellular GSH were measured.

CONCLUSIONS: DR5 induction plays a critical role in mediating perifosine/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Perifosine induces DR5 expression through a JNK-dependent mechanism independent of reactive oxygen species.

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