JNK regulates Fas receptor mediated apoptosis in prostate cancer cell lines

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Curtin, James
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University College Cork
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Prostate Cancer is a disease that primarily affects elderly men. The incidence of prostate cancer has been progressively increasing in the western world over the last two decades. Life expectancy and diet are believed to be the main factors contributing to this increase in prevalence. Prostate cancer is a slowly progressing disorder and patients often live for over 10 years after initially being diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, patients with hormone refractory prostate cancer have a poor prognosis and generally do not survive for longer than 2 or 3 years. Hormone refractory prostate cancer is responsible for over 200,000 deaths each year and current chemotherapeutic regimens are only useful as palliative agents. The long-term survival rate is poor and chemotherapy does not significantly increase this. Cell lines derived from hormone refractory tumours usually display elevated resistance to many cytotoxic drugs. The Fas receptor is a membrane bound protein capable of binding to a ligand called Fas ligand. Engagement of Fas receptor with Fas ligand results in clustering of Fas receptor on the plasma membrane of cells. A number of proteins responsible for initiating apoptosis are recruited to the plasma membrane and are activated in response to elevated local concentrations. This series of events initiates a proteolysis cascade and that culminates in the degradation of structural and enzymatic processes and the repackaging of cellular constituents within membrane bound vesicles that can be endocytosed and recycled by surrounding phagocytic cells. The Fas receptor is believed to be a key mechanism by which immune cells can destroy damaged cells. Consequently, resistance to Fas receptor mediated apoptosis often correlates with tumour progression. It has been reported that prostate cancer cell lines display elevated resistance to Fas receptor mediated apoptosis and this correlates with the stage of tumour from which the cell lines were isolated. JNK, a stress-activated protein kinase, has been implicated both with increased survival and increased apoptosis in prostate cancer. Elevated endogenous JNK activity has been demonstrated to correlate with prostate cancer progression. It has been shown that endogenous JNK activity increases the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins and can increase the resistance of prostate cancer cell lines to chemotherapy. In addition, elevated endogenous JNK activity is required for improved proliferation and transformation of a number of epithelial tumours. However, prolonged JNK activation in response to cytotoxic stimuli can increase the sensitivity of cells to apoptosis. Prolonged JNK activity appears to induce the expression of a separate set of genes responsible for promoting apoptosis. Our group has recently shown that activation of JNK by chemotherapeutic drugs can sensitise DU 145 prostate carcinoma cells to Fas receptor mediated apoptosis. In order toidentify novel targets for treating hormone refractory prostate cancer we have investigated the role of JNK in Fas receptor mediated apoptosis. We have demonstrated that prolonged JNK activation is defective in DU 145 cells in response to Fas receptor activation alone. Co-administering anisomycin, a JNK agonist, greatly enhances the ability of DU 145 cells to undergo apoptosis by increasing the rate of Caspase 8 cleavage. We also investigated the role of endogenous JNK activity in Fas receptor mediated.
Apoptosis , Prostate cancer
Curtin, J. 2003. JNK regulates Fas receptor mediated apoptosis in prostate cancer cell lines. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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