Bortezomib modulates TRAIL sensitivity in human bladder and prostate cancer

Laura Michelle Lashinger, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (Apo2L/TRAIL) is a member of the TNF superfamily of cytokines that can induce cell death through engagement of cognate death receptors. Unlike other death receptor ligands, it selectively kills tumor cells while sparing normal cells. Preclinical studies in non-human primates have generated much enthusiasm regarding its therapeutic potential. However, many human cancer cell lines exhibit significant resistance to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, and the molecular mechanisms underling this are controversial. Possible explanations are typically cell-type dependent, but include alterations of receptor expression, enhancement of pro-apoptotic intracellular signaling molecules, and reductions in anti-apoptotic proteins. We show here that the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib (Velcade, PS-341) produces synergistic apoptosis in both bladder and prostate cancer cell lines within 4-6 hours when co-treated with recombinant human TRAIL which is associated with accumulation of p21 and cdk1/2 inhibition. Our data suggest that bortezomib's mechanism of action involves a p21-dependent enhancement of caspase maturation. Furthermore, we found enhanced tumor cell death in in vivo models using athymic nude mice. This is associated with increases in caspase-8 and caspase-3 cleavage as well as significant reductions in microvessel density (MVD) and proliferation. Although TRAIL alone had less of an effect, its biological significance as a single agent requires further investigations. Toxicity studies reveal that the combination of bortezomib and rhTRAIL has fatal consequences that can be circumvented by altering treatment schedules. Based on our findings, we conclude that this strategy has significant therapeutic potential as an anti-cancer agent.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Lashinger, Laura Michelle, "Bortezomib modulates TRAIL sensitivity in human bladder and prostate cancer" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3193457.