Crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis in the regulation of paclitaxel-induced cell death in v-Ha-ras-transformed fibroblasts.

Research paper by Ki-Hwan KH Eum, Michael M Lee

Indexed on: 12 Nov '10Published on: 12 Nov '10Published in: Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry


The previous studies by this author group has shown that paclitaxel, a mitotic inhibitor used in breast cancer chemotherapy, inhibits cell growth via induction of Raf-1-dependent apoptosis. In this article, the role of autophagy in paclitaxel anticancer action was investigated using v-Ha-ras-transformed NIH 3T3 cells. Paclitaxel induced a notable increase in the number of fluorescent particles labeled with monodansylcadaverine (MDC), a specific marker for autophagic vacuoles. MDC-labeled vacuoles clearly exhibited the fluorescent-tagged LC3 in cells transiently overexpressing GFP-LC3 (a protein that associates with autophagosome membranes). However, autophagy inhibition with 3-methyladenine (3-MA) failed to rescue v-Ha-ras-transformed NIH 3T3 cells from paclitaxel-induced cell death. More interestingly, the apoptosis inhibition by overexpression of the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) did not fully block the cell death by paclitaxel, implying that apoptosis inhibition might accelerate the autophagic components of the paclitaxel response. Conversely, Raf-1 shRNA expression protected against paclitaxel-induced cell death through the simultaneous inhibition of both autophagy and apoptosis. These results suggest that both autophagy and apoptosis act as cooperative partners to induce cell death in v-Ha-ras-transformed NIH 3T3 cells treated with paclitaxel.