Intracellularly transported adenosine induces apoptosis in HuH-7 human hepatoma cells by downregulating c-FLIP expression causing caspase-3/-8 activation

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Extracellular adenosine induced apoptosis of HuH-7 cells, a Fas-deficient human hepatoma cell line. The adenosine action was inhibited by dipyridamole, an adenosine transporter inhibitor, or 5′-amino-5′-deoxyadenosine, an inhibitor of adenosine kinase to convert from adenosine to AMP, but it was not affected by inhibitors for adenosine A1, A2a, A2b, and A3 adenosine receptors. Adenosine activated caspase-3 and -8, but not caspase-9, in HuH-7 cells, and the activation was abolished by dipyridamole. In the real-time RT-PCR and Western blot analysis, extracellular adenosine downregulated mRNA and protein levels for c-FLIP, and the effect was suppressed by dipyridamole. Furthermore, overexpression of c-FLIP short in HuH-7 cells inhibited adenosine-induced caspase-8 activity. Taken together, these results suggest that intracellularly transported adenosine, perhaps converted AMP as the ensuing event, activates caspase-8 and the downstream effector caspase caspase-3 by neutralizing caspase-8 inhibition due to c-FLIP as a consequence of decreased c-FLIP expression, leading to apoptosis. This extends our understanding of adenosine-induced molecular apoptotic pathways.

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