XIAP regulates Akt activity and caspase-3-dependent cleavage during cisplatin-induced apoptosis in human ovarian epithelial cancer cells

Eric Asselin, Gordon B. Mills, Benjamin K. Tsang

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319 Scopus citations


Chemoresistance is a major hurdle for successful cancer therapy. Although multiple mechanisms have been implicated to be involved in cisplatin resistance, recent evidence has suggested that X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) may be a key determinant in chemosensitivity in ovarian cancer. Cell fate is determined by a balance between cell survival and apoptotic signaling. Whereas phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-K) and XIAP are believed to be important cell survival factors in human ovarian surface epithelial cancer cells, if and how they interact to confer resistance to chemotherapy is not known. In the present study, we have investigated the role of XIAP in the regulation of the PI 3-K/Akt survival pathway in chemosensitive (A2780-s, OV2008, and OVCAR-3) and resistant (A2780-cp) ovarian cancer cell lines and the nature of this interaction in cell death/survival signaling. Cisplatin decreased XIAP protein levels and induced Akt cleavage and apoptosis in chemosensitive, but not in resistant, ovarian cancer cells. Cisplatin also induced cleavage of caspase-9 and caspase-3, a process blocked by XIAP overexpression. Pretreatment of ovarian cancer cells and their whole cell lysate with tetrapeptide inhibitors of caspases in vitro significantly decreased Akt cleavage induced by cisplatin and exogenous active caspase-3. Adenoviral sense XIAP cDNA expression increased XIAP protein levels and increased Akt phosphorylation, indicative of activation of Akt and, likely, of PI 3-K. This was associated with a decrease in cisplatin-induced apoptosis. In a cell line (OVCAR-3) where basal phosphorylated Akt levels were high, XIAP overexpression failed to increase further the level of this phosphoprotein. XIAP down-regulation induced Akt cleavage and apoptosis, and treatment of whole cell lysate with human recombinant active caspase-3 resulted in a similar pattern of Akt cleavage. In the presence of the PI 3-K inhibitor (LY294002), XIAP overexpression failed to block cisplatin-induced apoptosis and to induce Akt phosphorylation, suggesting that the site of action of XIAP is upstream of Akt in this cell survival pathway. Taken together, the results indicate that XIAP prevents apoptosis through a PI 3-K-dependent inhibition of the caspase cascade. These results demonstrate a novel mechanism by which XIAP regulates apoptosis and the possible involvement of the PI 3-K/Akt survival pathway in XIAP-mediated chemoresistance of ovarian cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1862-1868
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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