Inhibition of RIP and c-FLIP enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells

Peng Wang, Jing Zhang, Anita Bellail, Wen Jiang, Judith Hugh, Norman M. Kneteman, Chunhai Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has recently emerged as a cancer therapeutic agent because it is capable of preferentially inducing apoptosis in human cancer over normal cells. The majority of human pancreatic cancers, unfortunately, are resistant to TRAIL treatment. Here, we show that the inhibition of caspase-8 cleavage is the most upstream event in TRAIL resistance in pancreatic cancers. TRAIL treatment led to the cleavage of caspase-8 and downstream caspase-9, caspase-3, and DNA fragmentation factor 45 (DFF45) in TRAIL-sensitive pancreatic cancer cell lines (BXPC-3, PACA-2). This caspase-8-initiated caspase cascade, however, was inhibited in TRAIL-resistant pancreatic cancer cell lines (PANC-1, ASPC-1, CAPAN-1, CAPAN-2). The long and short forms of cellular Fas-associated death domain-like interleukin-1β-converting enzyme-inhibitory protein (c-FLIPL, c-FLIPS) were highly expressed in the TRAIL-resistant as compared to the sensitive cells; knockdown of c-FLIPL and c-FLIPS by a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) rendered the resistant cells sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis through the cleavage of caspase-8 and activation of the mitochondrial pathway. Receptor-interacting protein (RIP) has been reported in TRAIL-induced activation of NF-κB and we show here that knockdown of RIP sensitized the resistant cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. These results indicate the role of c-FLIP and RIP in caspase-8 inhibition and thus TRAIL resistance. Treatment of the resistant cells with camptothecin, celecoxib and cisplatin resulted in the downregulation of c-FLIP and caused a synergistic apoptotic effect with TRAIL. These studies therefore suggest that combination treatment with chemotherapy can overcome TRAIL resistance and enhance TRAIL therapeutic efficacy in treating pancreatic cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2237-2246
Number of pages10
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • RIP
  • c-FLIP


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