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

The PML/RARalpha fusion protein inhibits tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced apoptosis in U937 cells and acute promyelocytic leukemia blasts.

We investigated the effect of the acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) specific PML/RARalpha fusion protein on the sensitivity to TNF-alpha-mediated apoptosis. The U937 leukemia cell line was transduced with PML/RARalpha cDNA. PML/RARalpha expression caused a markedly reduced sensitivity to TNF-alpha, even if apoptosis was triggered by agonistic antibodies to TNF-alpha receptors I and II (TNF-alphaRI, II). PML/RARalpha induced a 10-20-fold decrease of the TNF-alpha-binding capacity via downmodulation of both TNF-alphaRI and TNF-alphaRII: this may mediate at least in part the reduced sensitivity to TNF-alpha. Furthermore, the fusion protein did not modify Fas expression (CD95) or sensitivity to Fas-mediated apoptosis. The pathophysiological significance of these findings is supported by two series of observations. (a) Fresh APL blasts exhibit no TNF-alpha binding and are resistant to TNF-alpha-mediated apoptosis. Conversely, normal myeloblasts-promyelocytes show marked TNF-alphaR expression and are moderately sensitive to TNF-alpha-mediated cytotoxicity. Similarly, blasts from other types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML M1, M2, and M4 FAB types) show an elevated TNF-alpha binding. (b) The NB4 APL cell line, which is PML/RARalpha+, shows low TNF-alphaR expression capacity and is resistant to TNF-alpha-triggered apoptosis; conversely a PML/RARalpha- NB4 subclone (NB4.306) exhibits detectable TNF-alpha-binding capacity and is sensitive to TNF-alpha-mediated cytotoxicity. These studies indicate that the PML/RARalpha fusion protein protects against TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis, at least in part via downmodulation of TNF-alphaRI/II: this phenomenon may play a significant role in APL, which is characterized by prolonged survival of leukemic blasts.[1]


  1. The PML/RARalpha fusion protein inhibits tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced apoptosis in U937 cells and acute promyelocytic leukemia blasts. Testa, U., Grignani, F., Samoggia, P., Zanetti, C., Riccioni, R., Lo Coco, F., Diverio, D., Felli, N., Passerini, C.G., Grell, M., Pelicci, P.G., Peschle, C. J. Clin. Invest. (1998) [Pubmed]
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