Previous studies have shown that coexposure to marginally toxic concentrations of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 10 nM) and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor flavopiridol (FP; 100-200 nM) synergistically induces apoptosis in human myeloid leukemia cells U937 and HL-60 (i.e., >50% apoptotic at 24 h). Attempts have now been made to characterize the cell death pathway(s) involved in this phenomenon. In contrast to cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation, which occur within 2.5 h of PMA/FP coexposure, caspase-8 activation and Bid cleavage appeared as later events. Such findings implicate the mitochondria-dependent pathway in the initial induction of apoptosis by PMA/FP. However, U937 cells ectopically expressing CrmA, dominant-negative caspase-8, or dominantnegative Fas-associated death domain that were highly resistant to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)/cycloheximide-induced lethality displayed significant, albeit incomplete, resistance to PMA/FP-induced apoptosis after 24 h. Furthermore, coadministration of TNF soluble receptor significantly attenuated PMA/FP-induced apoptosis in U937 (p > 0.02) and HL-60 (p > 0.03) cells at 24 h. PMA/FP coadministration also triggered substantial increases in TNFα mRNA and protein secretion compared with the effects of PMA administered alone. The protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide (1 μM) completely blocked PMA/FP-induced TNFα secretion in U937 cells and attenuated apoptosis. Taken together, these results suggest that coadministration of PMA with FP in myeloid leukemia cells initially triggers mitochondrial damage, an event followed by the PKC-dependent induction and release of TNFα, supporting a model in which the synergistic induction of leukemic cell apoptosis by this drug combination proceeds via both mitochondrial- and TNF receptor-related apoptotic pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine