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Anticancer Drugs. 2013 Mar;24(3):260-9. doi: 10.1097/CAD.0b013e32835c0311.

Nutlin-3, a small-molecule MDM2 inhibitor, sensitizes Caki cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis through p53-mediated PUMA upregulation and ROS-mediated DR5 upregulation.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Keimyung University, Daegu 704-701, South Korea.


Nutlin-3 is a novel small-molecule antagonist of the human homolog of mouse double minute (MDM2) that binds MDM2 in the p53-binding pocket and activates the p53 signaling pathway. In this study, we show that nutlin-3 sensitizes Caki human renal cancer cells, but not normal human skin fibroblast (HSF) cells or human mesangial cells, to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Combined treatment with nutlin-3 and TRAIL markedly induces apoptosis in HCT116 cells (p53 wild type), but not in HCT116 p53-/- cells, suggesting that p53 is critical for the sensitizing effect of nutlin-3 on TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) significantly inhibited nutlin-3-induced DR5 upregulation and cell death induced by the combined treatment with nutlin-3 and TRAIL, suggesting that reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediate nutlin-3-induced DR5 upregulation, which contributes toward TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. However, the upregulation of the p53-mediated protein p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) by nutlin-3 is likely to be ROS independent because antioxidants failed to block PUMA upregulation. Interestingly, a combined treatment with NAC and PUMA small interfering RNAs significantly blocks nutlin-3-induced and TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Therefore, the present study shows that nutlin-3 enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human renal cancer cells by ROS-mediated or p53-mediated DR5 upregulation and p53-induced PUMA upregulation. These results may offer a novel therapeutic approach to TRAIL-based cancer therapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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