The roles of thymidylate synthase and p53 in regulating Fas-mediated apoptosis in response to antimetabolites

Daniel Longley, Wendy Allen, U. McDermott, Timothy Wilson, T. Latif, J. Boyer, Maria Lynch, Patrick Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Fas (CD95/Apo-1) is a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family. Receptor binding results in activation of caspase 8, leading to activation of proapoptotic downstream molecules. We found that expression of Fas was up-regulated >10-fold in MCF-7 breast and HCT116 and RKO colon cancer cell lines after treatment with IC(60) doses of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and raltitrexed (RTX). Combined treatment with the agonistic Fas antibody CH-11 and either 5-FU or RTX resulted in a highly synergistic induction of apoptosis in these cell lines. Similar results were obtained for another antifolate, Alimta. Induction of thymidylate synthase expression inhibited Fas induction in response to RTX and Alimta, but not in response to 5-FU. Furthermore, thymidylate synthase induction abrogated the synergy between CH-11 and both antifolates but had no effect on the synergistic interaction between 5-FU and CH-11. Inactivation of p53 in MCF-7 and HCT116 cell lines blocked 5-FU- and antifolate-mediated up-regulation of Fas. Furthermore, Fas was not up-regulated in response to 5-FU or antifolates in the p53-mutant H630 colon cancer cell line. Lack of Fas up-regulation in the p53-null and -mutant lines abolished the synergistic interaction between 5-FU and CH-11. Interestingly, synergy was still observed between the antifolates and CH-11 in the p53-null HCT116 and p53-mutant H630 cell lines, although this was significantly reduced compared with the p53 wild-type cell lines. Our results indicate that Fas is an important mediator of apoptosis in response to both 5-FU and antifolates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3562-3571
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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