Caspase 8: Mediating the effects of a novel proteasome inhibitor, NPI-0052

Claudia Patricia Miller, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Targeting the proteasome with the sole FDA approved proteasome inhibitor (PI), bortezomib, has been fruitful in specific cancers. Its success has generated an interest in next-generation PIs that might have a therapeutic advantage in cancers, such as leukemia, where bortezomib monotherapy was less effective. This study focuses on a novel, clinically relevant PI, NPI-0052. Experiments show that NPI-0052 targets chymotrypsin- and caspase-like activities more potently than the trypsin-like activity in leukemia cells. NPI-0052 induced apoptosis, as determined by caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation. Using caspase inhibitors and caspase-8 (I9.2) or FADD (I2.1) deficient cells revealed that caspase-8 was essential for NPI-0052-induced apoptosis. NPI-0052 killed cells via a caspase-8-tBid-mitochondrial pathway, relying on caspase-8, whereas bortezomib relies on several caspases. NPI-0052 increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, which contributed towards cytotoxicity since an antioxidant conferred protection. To improve the clinical efficacy of PIs, NPI-0052 was combined with epigenetic anti-cancer agents, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi). NPI-0052 with MS-275 or vorinostat (FDA approved HDACi), synergistically induced apoptosis more effectively than an HDACi/bortezomib regimen in Jurkat cells. Caspase-8 and ROS contributed towards NPI-0052/HDACi cytotoxicity and caspase-8 mediated superoxide production by NPI-0052 or NPI-0052/HDACi. The proximal targets of these agents: proteasome activity and histone acetylation were examined to determine if they contributed towards synergistic effects. HDACi targeted proteasomal β subunits and corresponding catalytic activities responsible for degrading proteins. Immunoblotting showed increases in histone-H3 expression and its acetylation with NPI-0052 or NPI-0052/HDACi in Jurkat and primary cells. Importantly, the hyper-acetylation by NPI-0052 was not detected with bortezomib, suggesting that this effect may be unique to NPI-0052. An antioxidant attenuated histone-H3 expression and acetylation induced by NPI-0052 alone or with HDACi. Furthermore, the hyper-acetylation by NPI-0052 relied on caspase-8. These novel results show that a PI is eliciting classical epigenetic alterations, demonstrated by hyper-acetylation of histone-H3. This alteration was oxidant and caspase-8 dependent. Overall, results reveal that caspase-8 mediates many effects induced by NPI-0052. Data show overlapping activities by NPI-0052 and HDACi which are contributing, along with caspase-8 activation and oxidative stress, to cytotoxic interactions in leukemia cells, reinforcing the potential clinical utility of combining these two compounds.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Miller, Claudia Patricia, "Caspase 8: Mediating the effects of a novel proteasome inhibitor, NPI-0052" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3367968.