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Oncogene. 2000 Aug 24;19(36):4159-69.

Paclitaxel sensitivity of breast cancer cells with constitutively active NF-kappaB is enhanced by IkappaBalpha super-repressor and parthenolide.

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Department of Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, IN 46202, USA.


The transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) regulates genes important for tumor invasion, metastasis and chemoresistance. Normally, NF-kappaB remains sequestered in an inactive state by cytoplasmic inhibitor-of-kappaB (IkappaB) proteins. NF-kappaB translocates to nucleus and activates gene expression upon exposure of cells to growth factors and cytokines. We and others have shown previously that NF-kappaB is constitutively active in a subset of breast cancers. In this study, we show that constitutive activation of NF-kappaB leads to overexpression of the anti-apoptotic genes c-inhibitor of apoptosis 2 (c-IAP2) and manganese superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD) in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, expression of the anti-apoptotic tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor 1 (TRAF1) and defender-against cell death (DAD-1) is regulated by NF-kappaB in certain breast cancer cells. We also demonstrate that NF-kappaB-inducible genes protect cancer cells against paclitaxel as MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells modified to overexpress IkappaBalpha required lower concentrations of paclitaxel to arrest at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle and undergo apoptosis when compared to parental cells. The effect of NF-kappaB on paclitaxel-sensitivity appears to be specific to cancer cells because normal fibroblasts derived from embryos lacking p65 subunit of NF-kappaB and wild type littermate embryos were insensitive to paclitaxel-induced G2/M cell cycle arrest. Parthenolide, an active ingredient of herbal remedies such as feverfew (tanacetum parthenium), mimicked the effects of IkappaBalpha by inhibiting NF-kappaB DNA binding activity and Mn-SOD expression, and increasing paclitaxel-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cells. These results suggest that active ingredients of herbs with anti-inflammatory properties may be useful in increasing the sensitivity of cancers with constitutively active NF-kappaB to chemotherapeutic drugs. Oncogene (2000) 19, 4159 - 4169.

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