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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 29;282(26):18800-9. Epub 2007 May 9.

The farnesyltransferase inhibitor lonafarnib induces CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein-dependent expression of death receptor 5, leading to induction of apoptosis in human cancer cells.

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Department of Hematology and Oncology, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) induce growth arrest or apoptosis in various human cancer cells independently of Ras mutations. However, the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Death receptor 5 (DR5) is a pro-apoptotic protein involved in mediating the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. Its role in FTI-induced apoptosis has not been reported. In this study, we investigated the modulation of DR5 by the FTI lonafarnib and the involvement of DR5 up-regulation in FTI-induced apoptosis. Lonafarnib activated caspase-8 and its downstream caspases, whereas the caspase-8-specific inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Ile-Glu(methoxy)-Thr-Asp(methoxy)-fluoromethyl ketone or small interfering RNA abrogated lonafarnib-induced apoptosis, indicating that lonafarnib induces caspase-8-dependent apoptosis. Lonafarnib up-regulated DR5 expression, increased cell-surface DR5 distribution, and enhanced tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced apoptosis. Overexpression of a dominant-negative Fas-associated death domain mutant or silencing of DR5 expression using small interfering RNA attenuated lonafarnib-induced apoptosis. These results indicate a critical role of the DR5-mediated extrinsic apoptotic pathway in lonafarnib-induced apoptosis. By analyzing the DR5 promoter, we found that lonafarnib induced a CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP)-dependent transactivation of the DR5 promoter. Lonafarnib increased CHOP expression, whereas silencing of CHOP expression abrogated lonafarnib-induced DR5 expression. These results thus indicate that lonafarnib induces CHOP-dependent DR5 up-regulation. We conclude that CHOP-dependent DR5 up-regulation contributes to lonafarnib-induced apoptosis.

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