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Radiosensitization of melanoma cells through combined inhibition of protein regulators of cell survival

Johnson, Geoffrey E.; Ivanov, Vladimir N.; Hei, Tom K.

The incidence of melanoma continues to dramatically increase in most Western countries with predominantly Caucasian populations. However, only limited therapies for the metastatic stage of the disease are currently available. The main purpose of this study is to determine approaches that can substantially increase radiosensitivity of melanoma cells. The PI3K-AKT, NF-κB and COX-2 pathways, which are involved in the radioprotective response, are highly active in melanoma cells. Pharmacological suppression of COX-2 and PI3K-AKT, or RNAi-mediated knockdown of COX-2, substantially increased levels of G2/M arrest of the cell cycle and decreased clonogenic survival of gamma-irradiated melanomas, predominantly via a necrotic mechanism. On the other hand, resveratrol, a polyphenolic phytoalexin, selectively targets numerous cell signaling pathways, decreasing clonogenic survival primarily via an apoptotic mechanism. In melanoma cells, resveratrol inhibits STAT3 and NF-κB-dependent transcription, culminating in suppression of cFLIP and Bcl-xL expression, while activating the MAPK- and the ATM-Chk2-p53 pathways. Resveratrol also upregulates TRAIL promoter activity and induces TRAIL surface expression in some melanoma cell lines, resulting in a rapid development of apoptosis. Sequential treatment of melanoma cells, first with γ-irradiation to upregulate TRAIL-R surface expression, and then with resveratrol to suppress antiapoptotic proteins cFLIP and Bcl-xL and induce TRAIL surface expression, had dramatic effects on upregulation of apoptosis in some melanoma lines, including SW1 and WM35. However, for melanoma lines exhibiting suppressed translocation of TRAIL to the cell surface, a necrotic mechanism of cell death was primarily involved in radiation response. Hence, surface expression of TRAIL induced by resveratrol appears to be a decisive event, one which determines an apoptotic versus a necrotic response of melanoma cells to sequential treatment.


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Academic Units
Radiation Oncology
Center for Radiological Research
Published Here
July 22, 2015