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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 10;278(41):39461-9. Epub 2003 Jul 24.

Suppression of NF-kappa B survival signaling by nitrosylcobalamin sensitizes neoplasms to the anti-tumor effects of Apo2L/TRAIL.

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Taussig Cancer Center, Center for Cancer Drug Discovery and Development, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.


We have previously demonstrated the anti-tumor activity of nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl), an analog of vitamin B12 that delivers nitric oxide (NO) and increases the expression of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (Apo2L/TRAIL) and its receptors in human tumors. The specific aim of this study was to examine whether NO-Cbl could sensitize drug-resistant melanomas to Apo2L/TRAIL. Antiproliferative effects of NO-Cbl and Apo2L/TRAIL were assessed in malignant melanomas and non-tumorigenic melanocyte and fibroblast cell lines. Athymic nude mice bearing human melanoma A375 xenografts were treated with NO-Cbl and Apo2L/TRAIL. Apoptosis was measured by TUNEL and confirmed by examining levels and activity of key mediators of apoptosis. The activation status of NF-kappa B was established by assaying DNA binding, luciferase reporter activity, the phosphorylation status of I kappa B alpha, and in vitro IKK activity. NO-Cbl sensitized Apo2L/TRAIL-resistant melanoma cell lines to growth inhibition by Apo2L/TRAIL but had minimal effect on normal cell lines. NO-Cbl and Apo2L/TRAIL exerted synergistic anti-tumor activity against A375 xenografts. Treatment with NO-Cbl followed by Apo2L/TRAIL induced apoptosis in Apo2L/TRAIL-resistant tumor cells, characterized by cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-8, and PARP. NO-Cbl inhibited IKK activation, characterized by decreased phosphorylation of I kappa B alpha and inhibition of NF-kappa B DNA binding activity. NO-Cbl suppressed Apo2L/TRAIL- and TNF-alpha-mediated activation of a transfected NF-kappa B-driven luciferase reporter. XIAP, an inhibitor of apoptosis, was inactivated by NO-Cbl. NO-Cbl treatment rendered Apo2L/TRAIL-resistant malignancies sensitive to the anti-tumor effects of Apo2L/TRAIL in vitro and in vivo. The use of NO-Cbl and Apo2L/TRAIL capitalizes on the tumor-specific properties of both agents and represents a promising anti-cancer combination.

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