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Acta Biochim Pol. 2008;55(4):741-8. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

TNFalpha-induced activation of NFkappaB protects against UV-induced apoptosis specifically in p53-proficient cells.

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Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Gliwice, Poland.


The signaling pathways that depend on p53 or NFkappaB transcription factors are essential components of cellular responses to stress. In general, p53 is involved in either activation of cell cycle arrest or induction of apoptosis, while NFkappaB exerts mostly anti-apoptotic functions; both regulatory pathways apparently interfere with each other. Here we aimed to analyze the effects of NFkappaB activation on DNA damage-induced apoptosis, either p53-dependent or p53-independent, in a set of human cell lines. Four cell lines, HCT116 and RKO colon carcinoma, NCI-H1299 lung carcinoma and HL60 myeloblastoma, each of them in two congenic variants either containing or lacking transcriptionally competent p53, were used. Cells were incubated with TNFalpha cytokine to activate NFkappaB and then treated with ultraviolet or ionizing radiation to induce apoptosis, which was assessed by measurement of the sub-G1 cell fraction. We observed that treatment with TNFalpha resulted in a significant reduction in the frequency of apoptotic cells in UV-irradiated p53-proficient lines (with exception of the UV-resistant NCI-H1299 cells). This anti-apoptotic effect was lost when cells were pretreated with parthenolide, an inhibitor of NFkappaB activation. In marked contrast, TNFalpha-pretreatment of p53-deficient lines resulted in an increased frequency of apoptotic cells after UV irradiation (with exception of HL60 cells). Such anti- and pro-apoptotic influence of TNFalpha was less obvious in cells treated with ionizing radiation. The data clearly indicates functional interference of both signaling pathways upon the damage-induced apoptotic response, yet the observed effects are both cell type- and stimulus-specific.

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