Serine protease inhibitors interact with IFN-γ through up-regulation of FasR; a novel therapeutic strategy against cancer

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Among the many immunomodulatory and anti-tumor activities, IFN-γ up-regulates tumor cell death mediated by Fas receptor (FasR). Our and several other studies have demonstrated the involvement of trypsin-like proteases (TLPs) in the mode of action of IFN-γ. In the present study, we tried to unravel the role of serine proteases in IFN-γ induced Fas-mediated cell death. Our present results show that both tosyl-L-Lysine chloromethylketone (TLCK), a trypsin like protease inhibitor and tosyl-L-phenylalanine chloromethylketone (TPCK) – a chymotrypsin like protease (CLP) inhibitor, sensitize HeLa cells to Fas-mediated cell death. The combined effect of these protease inhibitors with anti-Fas was stronger than additive. In contrast, elastase inhibitor III (EI), which also contains the chloromethyl ketone moiety, was not active. Furthermore, co-addition of TLCK or TPCK with IFN-γ markedly enhanced Fas-induced cell death. IFN-γ led to up-regulation of FasR on its own, which was further enhanced by the co-addition of TLCK or TPCK. This was evident both by increased expression of Fas receptor on cell surface and by elevated Fas mRNA level. This study may provide the basis for the design of a novel combinatory therapeutic strategy that could enhance the eradication of tumors.

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