Interferon alpha-induced apoptosis in tumor cells is mediated through the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway.

Research paper by Lena L Thyrell, Linn L Hjortsberg, Velmurugesan V Arulampalam, Theocharis T Panaretakis, Sabine S Uhles, Markus M Dagnell, Boris B Zhivotovsky, Ingo I Leibiger, Dan D Grandér, Katja K Pokrovskaja

Indexed on: 02 Apr '04Published on: 02 Apr '04Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Interferon (IFN) alpha induces a caspase-dependent apoptosis that is associated with activation of the proapoptotic Bak and Bax, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and release of cytochrome c. In addition to the onset of the classical Jak-STAT pathway, IFNalpha also induced phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity. Pharmacological inhibition of PI3K activity by Ly294002 disrupted IFN-induced apoptosis upstream of mitochondria. Inhibition of mTOR by rapamycin or by overexpression of a kinase dead mutant of mTOR, efficiently blocked IFNalpha-induced apoptosis. A PI3K and mTOR-dependent phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase and 4E-BP1 repressor was induced by IFNalpha treatment of cells and was strongly inhibited by Ly294002 or rapamycin. The activation of Jak-STAT signaling upon IFNalpha stimulation was not affected by abrogating PI3K/mTOR pathway. Neither was the expression of several IFNalpha target genes affected, nor the ability of IFNalpha to protect against virus-induced cell death affected by inhibition of the PI3K/mTOR pathway. These data demonstrate that an intact PI3K/mTOR pathway is necessary for the ability of IFNalpha to induce apoptosis, whereas activation of the Jak-STAT pathway alone appears to be insufficient for this specific IFNalpha-induced effect.