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Surgery. 1999 Aug;126(2):371-7.

Ubiquitin-proteasome inhibition enhances apoptosis of human pancreatic cancer cells.

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Department of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655, USA.



Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a)-induced apoptosis is limited by coactivation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kb)-dependent antiapoptotic genes. Nuclear translocation of NF-kB requires degradation of ubiquitinated phospho-IkB-a by the 26S proteasome. We examined whether inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway enhances TNF-a-induced apoptosis in BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells.


Serum-starved BxPC-3 cells (12 hours) were pretreated or not for 50 minutes with PSI (30 m mol/L), a peptide aldehyde known to inhibit specifically the chymotrypsin-like activity of the 26S proteasome. Cells were subsequently stimulated with recombinant human TNF-a (400 units/mL). Western blots were performed using antibodies to IkB-a and phospho-IkB-a. Level of apoptosis was determined by two methods: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detection of interhistone DNA fragments and flow cytometry with propidium iodide staining.


TNF-a-induced degradation of IkB-a was inhibited by PSI. Phospho-IkB-a accumulation was observed 20 minutes after TNF-a stimulation. Apoptosis relative to constitutive levels was significantly increased after PSI pretreatment, as measured by DNA fragmentation (P < or = .05 by Student t test). Percent apoptosis by flow cytometry confirmed marked increases in apoptotic cell fractions from 5.9% (untreated) to 6.8% (TNF-a alone), 16.4% (PSI alone), and 18.9% (PSI and TNF-a).


PSI enhances both constitutive and TNF-a-induced apoptosis through inhibition of IkB-a degradation in BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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