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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 12;282(41):29831-46. Epub 2007 Aug 13.

Mcl-1 as a buffer for proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members during TRAIL-induced apoptosis: a mechanistic basis for sorafenib (Bay 43-9006)-induced TRAIL sensitization.

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  • 1Divisions of Oncology Research, Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


Previous studies have suggested that Mcl-1, an antiapoptotic Bcl-2 homolog that does not exhibit appreciable affinity for the caspase 8-generated C-terminal Bid fragment (tBid), diminishes sensitivity to tumor necrosis factor-alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). This study was performed to determine the mechanism by which Mcl-1 confers TRAIL resistance and to evaluate methods for overcoming this resistance. Affinity purification/immunoblotting assays using K562 human leukemia cells, which contain Mcl-1 and Bcl-x(L) as the predominant antiapoptotic Bcl-2 homologs, demonstrated that TRAIL treatment resulted in binding of tBid to Bcl-x(L) but not Mcl-1. In contrast, TRAIL caused increased binding between Mcl-1 and Bak that was diminished by treatment with the caspase 8 inhibitor N-(N(alpha)-acetylisoleucylglutamylthreonyl) aspartic acid (O-methyl ester)-fluoromethyl ketone (IETD(OMe)-fmk) or the c-Jun N-terminal kinase inhibitor SP600125. In addition, TRAIL caused increased binding of Bim and Puma to Mcl-1 that was inhibited by IETD(OMe)-fmk but not SP600125. Further experiments demonstrated that down-regulation of Mcl-1 by short hairpin RNA or the kinase inhibitor sorafenib increased TRAIL-induced Bak activation and death ligand-induced apoptosis in a wide variety of neoplastic cell lines as well as clinical acute myelogenous leukemia specimens. Collectively, these observations not only suggest a model in which Mcl-1 confers TRAIL resistance by serving as a buffer for Bak, Bim, and Puma, but also identify sorafenib as a potential modulator of TRAIL sensitivity.

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