TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a potent inducer of cell death in several cancer cells, but many cells are resistant to TRAIL. The mechanism that determines sensitivity to TRAIL-killing is still elusive. Here we report that deletion of TAK1 kinase greatly increased activation of caspase-3 and cell death after TRAIL stimulation in keratinocytes, fibroblasts and cancer cells. Although TAK1 kinase is involved in NF-κB pathway, ablation of NF-κB did not alter sensitivity to TRAIL. We found that TRAIL could induce accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) when TAK1 was deleted. Furthermore, we found that TAK1 deletion induced TRAIL-dependent downregulation of cIAP, which enhanced activation of caspase-3. These results show that TAK1 deletion facilitates TRAIL-induced cell death by activating caspase through ROS and downregulation of cIAP. Thus, inhibition of TAK1 can be an effective approach to increase TRAIL sensitivity.
Oncogene (2009) 28, 2257-2265; doi:10.1038/onc.2009.110; published online 4 May 2009