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J Biol Chem. 2010 Dec 24;285(52):40612-23. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.183616. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

Smac mimetic compounds potentiate interleukin-1beta-mediated cell death.

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Apoptosis Research Centre, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8L1, Canada.


Smac mimetic compounds (SMCs) potentiate TNFα-mediated cancer cell death by targeting the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins. In addition to TNFα, the tumor microenvironment is exposed to a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β. Here, we investigated the potential impact of IL-1β on SMC-mediated death of cancer cells. Synergy was seen in a subset of a diverse panel of 21 cancer cell lines to the combination of SMC and IL-1β treatment, which required IL-1β-induced activation of the NF-κB pathway. Elevated NF-κB activity resulted in the production of TNFα, which led to apoptosis dependent on caspase-8 and RIP1. In addition, concurrent silencing of cIAP1, cIAP2, and X-linked IAP by siRNA was most effective for triggering IL-1β-mediated cell death. Importantly, SMC-resistant cells that produced TNFα in response to IL-1β treatment were converted to an SMC-sensitive phenotype by c-FLIP knockdown. Reciprocally, ectopic expression of c-FLIP blocked cell death caused by combined SMC and IL-1β treatment in sensitive cancer cells. Together, our study indicates that a positive feed-forward loop by pro-inflammatory cytokines can be exploited by SMCs to induce apoptosis in cancer cells.

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