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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Thyroid carcinoma cells are resistant to FAS-mediated apoptosis but sensitive to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand.

Fas (APO-1/CD95) is a transmembrane protein of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)/nerve growth factor receptor superfamily that induces apoptosis in susceptible normal and neoplastic cells upon cross-linking by its ligand (FasL). TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is a more recently identified member of the TNF superfamily that has been shown to selectively kill neoplastic cells by engaging two cell-surface receptors, DR4 and DR5. Two additional TRAIL receptors (DcR1 and DcR2) do not transmit an apoptotic signal and have been proposed to confer protection from TRAIL-induced apoptosis. We addressed the expression of Fas, DR4, and DR5 in thyroid carcinoma cell lines and in 31 thyroid carcinoma specimens by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry, respectively, and tested the sensitivity of thyroid carcinoma cell lines to Fas- and TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Fas was found to be expressed in most thyroid carcinoma cell lines and tissue specimens. Although cross-linking of Fas did not induce apoptosis in thyroid carcinoma cell lines, Fas-mediated apoptosis did occur in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, suggesting the presence of a short-lived inhibitor of the Fas pathway in these cells. Cross-linking of Fas failed to induce recruitment and activation of caspase 8, whereas transfection of a constitutively active caspase 8 construct effectively killed the SW579 papillary carcinoma cell line, arguing that the action of the putative inhibitor occurs upstream of caspase 8. By contrast, recombinant TRAIL induced apoptosis in 10 of 12 thyroid carcinoma cell lines tested, by activating caspase-10 at the receptor level and triggering a caspase-mediated apoptotic cascade. Resistance to TRAIL did not correlate with DcR1 or DcR2 protein expression and was overcome by protein synthesis inhibition in 50% of the resistant cell lines. One medullary carcinoma cell line was resistant to Fas-and TRAIL-induced apoptosis, even in the presence of cycloheximide, and to transfection of constitutively active caspase-8, suggesting a different regulation of the apoptotic pathway. Our observations indicate that TRAIL effectively kills carcinomas that originate from the follicular epithelium of the thyroid gland, by inducing caspase-mediated apoptosis, and may provide a potentially potent therapeutic reagent against thyroid cancer.[1]


  1. Thyroid carcinoma cells are resistant to FAS-mediated apoptosis but sensitive to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. Mitsiades, N., Poulaki, V., Tseleni-Balafouta, S., Koutras, D.A., Stamenkovic, I. Cancer Res. (2000) [Pubmed]
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