Journal of neuro-oncology

TRAIL resistance in human neuroblastoma SK-N-AS cells is dependent on protein kinase C and involves inhibition of caspase-3 proteolytic processing.

PMID 22798207


Neuroblastoma is the most common solid extracranial cancer form in childhood with an etiology that is mostly unknown. Although tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has been proposed as a promising future anticancer drug candidate, highly malignant neuroblastoma has been reported to acquire TRAIL resistance by mechanisms that are poorly understood. Here, we show by western blot analysis, and live cell imaging using anchored FRET sensors, that the resistance to TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human neuroblastoma SK-N-AS cells depends on an incomplete processing of procaspase-3, generating an immature and catalytically inactive 21 kDa fragment. We have previously shown that the naturally occurring compound curcumin can sensitize SK-N-AS cells to TRAIL. In the present study, we show that curcumin also has a similar effect on human neuroblastoma SHEP1 cells. Furthermore, we show that curcumin and TRAIL co-treatment induces complete maturation and activation of caspase-3 in both cell lines. The mechanisms behind this effect seem to be dependent on protein kinase C (PKC), since inhibition of PKC using bisindolylmaleimide XI, could also sensitize these cells to TRAIL through a similar effect on caspase-3 activation. Moreover, TRAIL co-treatment with bisindolylmaleimide XI or curcumin resulted in down-regulation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein. In conclusion, our study shows that PKC can be involved in TRAIL resistance in human neuroblastoma cells by preventing caspase-3 maturation.