Cell death & disease

ROS-dependent phosphorylation of Bax by wortmannin sensitizes melanoma cells for TRAIL-induced apoptosis.

PMID 24113173


The pathways of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated apoptosis induction, of Bax activation and the sensitization of tumor cells for TRAIL (TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand)-induced apoptosis are still largely elusive. Here, sensitization of melanoma cells for TRAIL by the PI3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin correlated to the activation of mitochondrial apoptosis pathways. Apoptosis was dependent on Bax and abrogated by Bcl-2 overexpression. The synergistic enhancement was explained by Bax activation through wortmannin, which tightly correlated to the characteristic Bax phosphorylation patterns. Thus, wortmannin resulted in early reduction of the Bax-inactivating phosphorylation at serine-184, whereas the Bax-activating phosphorylation at threonine-167 was enhanced. Proving the responsibility of the pathway, comparable effects were obtained with an Akt inhibitor (MK-2206); while suppressed phosphorylation of serine-184 may be attributed to reduced Akt activity itself, the causes of enhanced threonine-167 phosphorylation were addressed here. Characteristically, production of ROS was seen early in response to wortmannin and MK-2206. Providing the link between ROS and Bax, we show that abrogated ROS production by α-tocopherol or by NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4) siRNA suppressed apoptosis and Bax activation. This correlated with reduced Bax phosphorylation at threonine-167. The data unraveled a mechanism by which NOX4-dependent ROS production controls apoptosis via Bax phosphorylation. The pathway may be considered for proapoptotic, anticancer strategies.

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W3144 Wortmannin, Ready Made Solution, from Penicillium funiculosum, ≥95% (HPLC)