Cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP): A novel target for Taxol-induced apoptosis

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It is known that by binding to the FAS-associated death domain (FADD) protein and/or caspases-8 and -10 at the level of the death-inducing signaling complex (DISC), cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) can prevent apoptosis triggered by death-inducing ligands. We investigated whether the c-FLIP splice variants, c-FLIP long [c-FLIP(L)] and c-FLIP short [c-FLIP(S)], play a role in Taxol-induced apoptosis. Our results showed that low Taxol concentrations triggered caspase-8- and caspase-10-dependent apoptosis in the CCRF-HSB-2 human lymphoblastic leukemia cell line, and induced the down-regulation of c-FLIP(S) and c-FLIP(L). Taxol decreased the expression of c-FLIP by a post-transcriptional and caspase-independent mechanism. To explore the distinct functions of the c-FLIP variants in Taxol-induced apoptosis, we transfected the cells with expression vectors carrying c-FLIP(L) and c-FLIP(S) in the sense orientation or c-FLIP(S) in the antisense orientation [c-FLIP(S)-AS]. Caspases-8 and -10 were more efficiently activated in the c-FLIP(S)-AS strain treated with 5-50 nM Taxol, which revealed that c-FLIP regulates Taxol-induced apoptosis by interacting with these caspases. Furthermore, our data showed that increased expression of c-FLIP(L) or c-FLIP(S) reduced apoptosis at 5-50 nM Taxol concentrations suggesting that both isoforms of c-FLIP prevent Taxol-induced apoptosis. These results revealed that Taxol induces apoptosis by down-regulating c-FLIP(S) and c-FLIP(L) expression.

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