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Int J Oncol. 2010 Sep;37(3):719-29.

Hypoxia-induced down-modulation of PKCepsilon promotes trail-mediated apoptosis of tumor cells.

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Department of Human Anatomy, Pharmacology and Forensic Medicine, Human Anatomy Section, University of Parma, Via Gramsci 14, 43126 Parma, Italy.


Tumor oxygen status is considered as a prognostic marker that impacts on malignant progression and outcome of tumor therapy. TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) plays a key role in cancer immunity, with potential applications in cancer therapy. Protein kinase C (PKC)epsilon, a transforming oncogene, has a role in the protection of cardiomyocytes and neurons from hypoxia-induced damage while, it can also modulate the susceptibility of tumor cells to TRAIL-induced cell death. Here we demonstrate that hypoxia induces a tumor cell phenotype highly sensitive to the cytotoxic effects of TRAIL. Based on the observation that: i) PKCepsilon expression levels are impaired during hypoxia, ii) the overexpression of PKCepsilon, but not of a kinase-inactive PKCepsilon mutant, is able to revert the hypoxia-induced sensitivity to TRAIL, iii) the down-modulation of PKCepsilon levels by RNA interference, on the contrary, induces the highly TRAIL-sensitive phenotype, iv) the inhibition of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) by specific siRNA blocks both the hypoxia-induced down-modulation of PKCepsilon and the induction of the highly TRAIL-sensitive phenotype; we conclude that the HIF-1alpha upregulation during hypoxia is associated to PKCepsilon down-modulation that likely represents the key molecular event promoting the apoptogenic effects of TRAIL in hypoxic tumor cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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