c-FLIP is an inhibitor of apoptosis mediated by the death receptors Fas, DR4 and DR5 and is expressed as long (c-FLIPL) and short (c-FLIPS) splice forms. We found that siRNA-mediated silencing of c-FLIP induced spontaneous apoptosis in a panel of p53 wild-type, mutant and null colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines and that this apoptosis was mediated by caspase 8 and FADD. Further analyses indicated the involvement of DR5 and/or Fas (but not DR4) in regulating apoptosis induced by c-FLIP siRNA. Interestingly, these effects were not dependent on activation of DR5 or Fas by their ligands TRAIL and FasL. Overexpression of c-FLIPL, but not c-FLIPS, significantly decreased spontaneous and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in HCT116 cells. Further analyses with splice form-specific siRNAs indicated that c-FLIPL was the more important splice form in regulating apoptosis in HCT116, H630 and LoVo cells, although specific knock down of c-FLIPS induced more apoptosis in the HT29 cell line. Importantly, intra-tumoral delivery of c-FLIP-targeted siRNA duplexes induced apoptosis and inhibited the growth of HCT116 xenografts in Balb/c SCID mice. In addition, the growth of c-FLIPL overexpressing CRC xenografts was more rapid than control xenografts, an effect that was significantly enhanced in the presence of chemotherapy. These results indicate that c-FLIP inhibits spontaneous death ligand-independent, death receptor-mediated apoptosis in CRC cells and that targeting c-FLIP may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of colorectal cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research