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Cell Death Dis. 2011 Aug 18;2:e194. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2011.78.

TNFR1 and TNFR2 regulate the extrinsic apoptotic pathway in myeloma cells by multiple mechanisms.

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Division of Molecular Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Würzburg, Germany.


The huge majority of myeloma cell lines express TNFR2 while a substantial subset of them failed to show TNFR1 expression. Stimulation of TNFR1 in the TNFR1-expressing subset of MM cell lines had no or only a very mild effect on cellular viability. Surprisingly, however, TNF stimulation enhanced cell death induction by CD95L and attenuated the apoptotic effect of TRAIL. The contrasting regulation of TRAIL- and CD95L-induced cell death by TNF could be traced back to the concomitant NFκB-mediated upregulation of CD95 and the antiapoptotic FLIP protein. It appeared that CD95 induction, due to its strength, overcompensated a rather moderate upregulation of FLIP so that the net effect of TNF-induced NFκB activation in the context of CD95 signaling is pro-apoptotic. TRAIL-induced cell death, however, was antagonized in response to TNF because in this context only the induction of FLIP is relevant. Stimulation of TNFR2 in myeloma cells leads to TRAF2 depletion. In line with this, we observed cell death induction in TNFR1-TNFR2-costimulated JJN3 cells. Our studies revealed that the TNF-TNF receptor system adjusts the responsiveness of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway in myeloma cells by multiple mechanisms that generate a highly context-dependent net effect on myeloma cell survival.

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