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1.  Discovery of Sanggenon G as a natural cell-permeable small-molecular weight inhibitor of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) 
FEBS Open Bio  2014;4:659-671.
•Discovery of a novel XIAP-inhibitory natural compound from Morus root bark (Sanggenon G).•Sanggenon G binds specific to the BIR3 domain of XIAP in a low μM range.•Sanggenon G interferes with XIAP-BIR3-substrate binding in living cells.•Sanggenon G acts as chemosensitizer in tumor cell lines with high XIAP expression.
Defects in the regulation of apoptosis are one main cause of cancer development and may result from overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins such as the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP). XIAP is frequently overexpressed in human leukemia and prostate and breast tumors. Inhibition of apoptosis by XIAP is mainly coordinated through direct binding to the initiator caspase-9 via its baculovirus-IAP-repeat-3 (BIR3) domain. XIAP inhibits caspases directly making it to an attractive target for anti-cancer therapy. In the search for novel, non-peptidic XIAP inhibitors in this study we focused on the chemical constituents of sāng bái pí (mulberry root bark). Most promising candidates of this plant were tested biochemically in vitro by a fluorescence polarization (FP) assay and in vivo via protein fragment complementation analysis (PCA). We identified the Diels Alder adduct Sanggenon G (SG1) as a novel, small-molecular weight inhibitor of XIAP. As shown by FP and PCA analyses, SG1 binds specifically to the BIR3 domain of XIAP with a binding affinity of 34.26 μM. Treatment of the transgenic leukemia cell line Molt3/XIAP with SG1 enhances caspase-8, -3 and -9 cleavage, displaces caspase-9 from XIAP as determined by immunoprecipitation experiments and sensitizes these cells to etoposide-induced apoptosis. SG1 not only sensitizes the XIAP-overexpressing leukemia cell line Molt3/XIAP to etoposide treatment but also different neuroblastoma cell lines endogenously expressing high XIAP levels. Taken together, Sanggenon G (SG1) is a novel, natural, non-peptidic, small-molecular inhibitor of XIAP that can serve as a starting point to develop a new class of improved XIAP inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4141193  PMID: 25161875
(FP-) assay, fluorescence polarization assay; ARPF-FAM, ARPF-K(5-Fam)-NH2-peptide; BIR-3, baculovirus-IAP-repeat-3; CC, column chromatography; Kd, dissociation constant; Ki, binding affinity; MAC, methanol crude extract of mulberry root bark; PCA, protein fragment complementation analysis; RLU, relative luminescence units; SG1, sanggenon G; XIAP, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein; XIAP inhibitor; Small-molecular weight; Cell permeable; Sanggenon G; Natural
2.  Elevated XIAP expression alone does not confer chemoresistance 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;102(12):1717-1723.
In various tumour types, elevated expression of the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) has been observed and XIAP targeting in diverse tumour entities enhanced the susceptibility to chemotherapeutic agents. Therefore, XIAP has been described and reviewed repeatedly as a chemoresistance factor in different tumour entities. However, rather than being an adverse prognostic marker, recent data suggest that elevated XIAP expression may be associated with a favourable clinical outcome. These somewhat conflicting findings, and the fact that in early studies XIAP suppressed apoptosis only when expressed transiently at levels far in excess of its physiological concentration, argue that the function of XIAP as an anti-apoptotic factor in tumour cells is both more complex and diverse than previously appreciated.
To better understand the impact of long-term elevated XIAP expression on resistance to chemotherapy, we generated cell lines stably overexpressing XIAP. The role of mitochondria was examined by stable expression of Bcl2 or stable knockdown of second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase (SMAC) in combination with up- or downregulation of XIAP expression.
Our data show that long-term expression of XIAP at concentrations comparable to that in tumour cells (two- to five-fold increase) resulted in little or no resistance towards chemotherapeutic drugs. The XIAP overexpression only in conjunction with stable knockdown of a single XIAP-antagonising factor such as SMAC resulted in severe resistance to cytostatic agents demonstrating XIAP as a potent chemoresistance factor only in cells lacking functional XIAP regulatory circuits.
Our results demonstrated that elevated XIAP expression alone cannot serve as a predictive marker of chemoresistance. Our data suggest that in order to predict the impact of XIAP on chemosusceptibility for a given tumour entity, the expression levels and functional states of all XIAP modulators need to be taken into account.
PMCID: PMC2883704  PMID: 20485285
XIAP; mitochondria; apoptosis; chemoresistance
3.  Prognostic significance of XIAP and NF-κB expression in esophageal carcinoma with postoperative radiotherapy 
X-chromosome-linked IAP (XIAP) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) are frequently overexpressed and correlate closely with chemoradiotherapy resistance and poor prognosis in many cancers. However, the significance of XIAP and NF-κB expression in radiotherapy sensitivity and its effect on the prognosis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) are still unknown. The aim of this study was to examine XIAP and NF-κB status in ESCC patients undergoing postoperative radiotherapy after radical surgery, and to evaluate their clinical significance.
A total of 78 ESCC patients treated with postoperative radiotherapy after radical surgery were enrolled in this study. We immunohistochemically investigated the expression of XIAP and NF-κB in tissues from enrolled patients with specific antibodies. Then, the correlations among XIAP, NF-κB expression, clinicopathological features and its prognostic relevance in ESCC were analyzed.
The increased expression of XIAP and NF-κB in ESCC tissues were clearly correlated with the tumor differentiation and p-TNM stage. Significant positive correlations were found between the expression status of XIAP and NF-κB (r = 0.779, P = 0.000). Overexpression of XIAP and NF-κB and metastasis were significantly associated with shorter overall survival times in univariate analysis (P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis also confirmed that XIAP expression was an independent prognostic factor (P = 0.005).
XIAP and NF-κB are intensively expressed in ESCC. The level of XIAP is positively correlated to progression and prognosis of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3819256  PMID: 24188482
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; X-chromosome-linked IAP; Nuclear factor-κB
4.  XIAP Is a Predictor of Cisplatin-Based Chemotherapy Response and Prognosis for Patients with Advanced Head and Neck Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e31601.
Approximately 60–80% of patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) die within five years after diagnosis. Cisplatin-based chemotherapy is the most commonly used palliative treatment for these patients. To evaluate the prognostic value of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) level as a potential biomarker in these patients, we investigated the relationship between XIAP expression and cisplatin response of these patients and their prognosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Sixty patients with advanced HNSCC were recruited in this study. Expression of XIAP was examined both before and after chemotherapy and was correlated with chemotherapy response, clinicopathology parameters and clinical outcomes of the patients. We found that XIAP was expressed in 17 (20.83%) of the 60 advanced HNSCC samples and the expression was significantly associated with cisplatin resistance (P = 0.036) and poor clinical outcome (P = 0.025). Cisplatin-based chemotherapy induced XIAP expression in those post-chemotherapy samples (P = 0.011), was further associated with poorer clinical outcome (P = 0.029). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only alcohol consumption, lymph node metastasis and XIAP level were independently associated with the prognosis of advanced HNSCC patients. Inhibiting XIAP expression with siRNA in XIAP overexpressed HNSCC cells remarkably increased their sensitivity to cisplatin treatment to nearly a 3 fold difference.
Our results demonstrate that XIAP overexpression plays an important role in the disease course and cisplatin-resistance of advanced HNSCC. XIAP is a valuable predictor of cisplatin-response and prognosis for patients with advanced head and neck cancer. Down-regulation of XIAP might be a promising adjuvant therapy for those patients of advanced HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC3293890  PMID: 22403616
5.  Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) expression and their prognostic significance in hepatocellular carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:125.
Similarly to other tumor types, an imbalance between unrestrained cell proliferation and impaired apoptosis appears to be a major unfavorable feature of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The members of IAP family are key regulators of apoptosis, cytokinesis and signal transduction. IAP survival action is antagonized by specific binding of Smac/DIABLO and XAF1. This study aimed to investigate the gene and protein expression pattern of IAP family members and their antagonists in a series of human HCCs and to assess their clinical significance.
Relative quantification of IAPs and their antagonist genes was assessed by quantitative Real Time RT-PCR (qPCR) in 80 patients who underwent surgical resection for HCC. The expression ratios of XIAP/XAF1 and of XIAP/Smac were also evaluated. Survivin, XIAP and XAF1 protein expression were investigated by immunohistochemistry. Correlations between mRNA levels, protein expression and clinicopathological features were assessed. Follow-up data were available for 69 HCC patients. The overall survival analysis was estimated according to the Kaplan-Meier method.
Survivin and Livin/ML-IAP mRNAs were significantly over-expressed in cancer tissues compared to non-neoplastic counterparts. Although Survivin immunoreactivity did not correlate with qPCR data, a significant relation was found between higher Survivin mRNA level and tumor stage, tumor grade and vascular invasion.
The mRNA ratio XIAP/XAF1 was significantly higher in HCCs than in cirrhotic tissues. Moreover, high XIAP/XAF1 ratio was an indicator of poor prognosis when overall survival was estimated and elevated XIAP immunoreactivity was significantly associated with shorter survival.
Our study demonstrates that alterations in the expression of IAP family members, including Survivin and Livin/ML-IAP, are frequent in HCCs. Of interest, we could determine that an imbalance in XIAP/XAF1 mRNA expression levels correlated to overall patient survival, and that high XIAP immunoreactivity was a poor prognostic factor.
PMCID: PMC2680906  PMID: 19397802
6.  Distinctive effects of the cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein c-IAP2 through stabilization by XIAP in glioblastoma multiforme cells 
Cell Cycle  2014;13(6):992-1005.
Inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) are extensively involved in NFκB signaling pathways. Regulation of c-IAP2 turnover by other proteins was investigated in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells in the present study. When overexpressed, X-linked IAP (XIAP) enhanced expression of ectopic c-IAP2, but not c-IAP1, and endogenous c-IAP2 levels were reduced once XIAP expression was silenced. TNFα stimulation substantially increased c-IAP2 expression, and this upregulation was impaired by suppression of XIAP. Similarly, when XIAP was limiting due to severe hypoxic conditions, c-IAP2 levels were downregulated. These data together indicate that XIAP is an important regulator responsible for stabilization of c-IAP2 levels under different conditions. Protein interactions occur through binding of BIR2 and BIR3 domains of c-IAP2 with the RING finger of XIAP. XIAP inhibition of c-IAP2 auto-degradation was dependent on this physical interaction, and it was independent of XIAP E3 ligase activity. Global c-IAP2 ubiquitination was not affected by XIAP, although c-IAP2 levels were significantly increased. A CARD-RING-containing fragment of c-IAP2 was found to target XIAP for proteasome-independent degradation, but it was unable to sensitize GBM cells to chemo-reagents. The XIAP-stabilized c-IAP2 was found to enhance IκB-α phosphorylation on serines 32 and 36, and to antagonize XIAP-induced increase in mature Smac and Bcl10. Taken together, our data identify a distinctive role of c-IAP2 as stabilizer of XIAP, which is likely involved in regulation of NFκB activation and apoptosis in GBM cells.
PMCID: PMC3984322  PMID: 24552816
Bcl10; IκB-α; TNFα; XIAP; anoxia; auto-degradation; c-IAP2; glioblastoma multiforme cell lines; mature Smac
7.  XIAP gene expression and function is regulated by autocrine and paracrine TGF-β signaling 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:216.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is often overexpressed in cancer cells, where it plays a key role in survival and also promotes invasiveness. To date however, the extracellular signals and intracellular pathways regulating its expression and activity remain incompletely understood. We have previously showed that exposure to each of the three TGF-β (transforming growth factor beta) isoforms upregulates XIAP protein content in endometrial carcinoma cells in vitro. In the present study, we have investigated the clinical relevance of TGF-β isoforms in endometrial tumours and the mechanisms through which TGF-β isoforms regulate XIAP content in uterine cancer cells.
TGF-β isoforms immunoreactivity in clinical samples from endometrial tumours was assessed using immunofluorescence. Two model cancer cell lines (KLE endometrial carcinoma cells and HeLa cervical cancer cells) and pharmacological inhibitors were used to investigate the signalling pathways regulating XIAP expression and activity in response to autocrine and paracrine TGF-β in cancer cell.
We have found immunoreactivity for each TGF-β isoform in clinical samples from endometrial tumours, localizing to both stromal and epithelial/cancer cells. Blockade of autocrine TGF-β signaling in KLE endometrial carcinoma cells and HeLa cervical cancer cells reduced endogenous XIAP mRNA and protein levels. In addition, each TGF-β isoform upregulated XIAP gene expression when given exogenously, in a Smad/NF-κB dependent manner. This resulted in increased polyubiquitination of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome ten), a newly identified substrate for XIAP E3 ligase activity, and in a XIAP-dependent decrease of PTEN protein levels. Although each TGF-β isoform decreased PTEN content in a XIAP- and a Smad-dependent manner, decrease of PTEN levels in response to only one isoform, TGF-β3, was blocked by PI3-K inhibitor LY294002.
XIAP gene expression and function is positively regulated by exposure to the three TGF-β isoforms in a Smad-dependent manner, similar to constitutive XIAP gene expression which depends on autocrine TGF-β/Smad signalling.
PMCID: PMC2933620  PMID: 20712893
8.  XIAP antisense oligonucleotide (AEG35156) achieves target knockdown and induces apoptosis preferentially in CD34+38− cells in a phase 1/2 study of patients with relapsed/refractory AML 
Apoptosis  2011;16(1):67-74.
XIAP, a potent caspase inhibitor, is highly expressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells and contributes to chemoresistance. A multi-center phase 1/2 trial of XIAP antisense oligonucleotide AEG35156 in combination with idarubicin/cytarabine was conducted in 56 patients with relapsed/refractory AML. Herein we report the pharmacodynamic studies of the patients enrolled at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. A total of 13 patients were enrolled in our institution: five in phase 1 (12–350 mg/m2 AEG35156) and eight in phase 2 (350 mg/m2 AEG35156) of the protocol. AEG35156 was administered on 3 consecutive days and then weekly up to a maximum of 35 days. Blood samples were collected from patients on days 1 through 5 and on day 28–35 post-chemotherapy for detection of XIAP levels and apoptosis. AEG35156 treatment led to dose-dependent decreases of XIAP mRNA levels (42–100% reduction in phase 2 patients). XIAP protein levels were reduced in all five samples measured. Apoptosis induction was detected in 1/4 phase 1 and 4/5 phase 2 patients. Importantly, apoptosis was most pronounced in CD34+38− AML stem cells and all phase 2 patients showing apoptosis induction in CD34+38− cells achieved response. We conclude that at 350 mg/m2, AEG35156 is effective in knocking down XIAP in circulating blasts accompanied by the preferential induction of apoptosis in CD34+38− AML stem cells.
PMCID: PMC3376026  PMID: 20938744
XIAP; Antisense oligonucleotide AEG35156; Apoptosis; Clinical trial; AML
9.  XIAP inhibitors induce differentiation and impair clonogenic capacity of acute myeloid leukemia stem cells 
Oncotarget  2014;5(12):4337-4346.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a neoplasia characterized by the rapid expansion of immature myeloid blasts in the bone marrow, and marked by poor prognosis and frequent relapse. As such, new therapeutic approaches are required for remission induction and prevention of relapse. Due to the higher chemotherapy sensitivity and limited life span of more differentiated AML blasts, differentiation-based therapies are a promising therapeutic approach. Based on public available gene expression profiles, a myeloid-specific differentiation-associated gene expression pattern was defined as the therapeutic target. A XIAP inhibitor (Dequalinium chloride, DQA) was identified in an in silico screening searching for small molecules that induce similar gene expression regulation. Treatment with DQA, similarly to Embelin (another XIAP inhibitor), induced cytotoxicity and differentiation in AML. XIAP inhibition differentially impaired cell viability of the most primitive AML blasts and reduced clonogenic capacity of AML cells, sparing healthy mature blood and hematopoietic stem cells. Taken together, these results suggest that XIAP constitutes a potential target for AML treatment and support the evaluation of XIAP inhibitors in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4147327  PMID: 24952669
Acute myeloid leukemia; leukemic stem cell; new drugs; XIAP; Embelin
10.  AB268. Down-regulation XIAP expression enhances the sensitivity of RCC cells to apoptosis, but the basal expression of XIAP in apoptosis is stable 
Translational Andrology and Urology  2016;5(Suppl 1):AB268.
Dysregulation of apoptotic pathway plays a critical role in tumor progression and resistance to chemo-, immuno- and radio-therapy in human renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The X-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis (XIAP), a key member of the Inhibitors of Apoptosis Protein (IAP) family, possesses the most potential to inhibit apoptosis by directly binding the initiator caspase-9, -3 and -7, thereby promoting tumor cell survival during tumor progression and numerous anticancer therapies.
We investigated the difference of XIAP basal expression level and evaluated its contribution to the resistance to apoptosis in RCC cell lines exposed to apoptosis-inducing drugs by histological methods and western blot analysis, than through RNAi, we got down-regulation XIAP expression clone no.2 cells, and observed its contribution to the sensitivity to apoptosis induced through Intrinsic pathway.
The different levels of XIAP expression could be detected in RCC cell lines between ClearCa-2 and ClearCa-6. CleraCa-6 with lower expression of XIAP much more sensitive to the apoptotic induced by means of death receptor and mitochondria pathway and NF-κB inhibition than ClearCa-2 with higher expression of XIAP(P<0.05). Downregulation of XIAP expression was observed in both cell lines by NF-κB inhibitor and in ClearCa-6 by the apoptotic induction mediated by mitochondria pathway. However, there existed the observed different levels of XIAP expression in ClearCa-2 and ClearCa-6 cell lines all along during the apoptotic inductions. Further, no-expression of XIAP cell line-clone no.2 was transfected, and it was more sensitive to the apoptosis inductions by mitochondria pathway.
Our result suggests that down-regulation XIAP expression can enhance the sensitivity of RCC cells to apoptosis, and the basal expression of XIAP in apoptosis process is stable. And this may provide reliable evidence and new ideas for targeted against XIAP gene therapy in clinical mentioned.
PMCID: PMC4842595
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC); apoptosis; X-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis (XIAP); RNAi
11.  XIAP associates with GSK3 and inhibits the promotion of intrinsic apoptotic signaling by GSK3 
Cellular signalling  2009;21(12):1857-1865.
This study examined if there are interactions between two key proteins that oppositely regulate intrinsic apoptosis, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), a key suppressor of apoptosis that binds to inhibit active caspases, and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), which promotes intrinsic apoptosis. Immunoprecipitation of GSK3β revealed that XIAP associates with GSK3β, as do two other members of the IAP family, cIAP-1, and cIAP-2. Cell fractionation revealed that XIAP is predominantly cytosolic, cIAP-1 is predominantly nuclear, and cIAP-2 is present in both compartments, and nearly all of the nuclear cIAPs are associated with GSK3. Expression of individual domains of XIAP demonstrated that the Ring domain of XIAP associates GSK3. Inhibition of GSK3 did not alter the binding of XIAP to active caspase-9 or caspase-3 after stimulation of apoptosis with staurosporine. However, inhibition of GSK3 reduced apoptosis and apoptosome formation, including the recruitments of caspase-9 and XIAP to Apaf-1, in response to staurosporine treatment. Cell free measurements of apoptosome-induced caspase-3 activation demonstrated that GSK3 acts upstream of the apoptosome to facilitate intrinsic apoptotic signaling. This facilitation was blocked by overexpression of XIAP. These findings indicate that the Ring domain of XIAP (and probably cIAP-1 and cIAP-2) associates with GSK3, GSK3 acts upstream of the apoptosome to promote intrinsic apoptosis, and the association between XIAP and GSK3 may block the pro-apoptotic function of GSK3.
PMCID: PMC2760639  PMID: 19698783
XIAP; GSK3; apoptosis
12.  XIAP BIR domain suppresses miR-200a expression and subsequently promotes EGFR protein translation and anchorage-independent growth of bladder cancer cell 
The X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is a well-known potent apoptosis suppressor and also participates in cancer cell biological behaviors, therefore attracting great attentions as a potential antineoplastic therapeutic target for past years. Anti-IAP therapy is reported to be closely related to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression level. However, whether and how XIAP modulates EGFR expression remains largely unknown.
Human XIAP was knockdown with short-hairpin RNA in two different bladder cancer cell lines, T24T and UMUC3. Two XIAP mutants, XIAP ∆BIR (deletion of N-terminal three BIR domains) and XIAP ∆RING (deletion of C-terminal RING domain and keeping the function of BIR domains), were generated to determine which domain is involved in regulating EGFR.
We found here that lacking of XIAP expression resulted in a remarkable suppression of EGFR expression, consequently leading to the deficiency of anchorage-independent cell growth. Further study demonstrated that BIR domain of XIAP was crucial for regulating the EGFR translation by suppressing the transcription and expression of miR-200a. Mechanistic studies indicated that BIR domain activated the protein phosphatase 2 (PP2A) activity by decreasing the phosphorylation of PP2A at Tyr307 in its catalytic subunit, PP2A-C. Such activated PP2A prevented the deviant phosphorylation and activation of MAPK kinases/MAPKs, their downstream effector c-Jun, and in turn inhibiting transcription of c-Jun-regulated the miR-200a.
Our study uncovered a novel function of BIR domain of XIAP in regulating the EGFR translation, providing significant insight into the understanding of the XIAP overexpression in the cancer development and progression, further offering a new theoretical support for using XIAP BIR domain and EGFR as targets for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC5217641  PMID: 28057023
XIAP BIR domain; miRNA; EGFR; Rac1; Bladder cancer
13.  Targeting inhibitor of apoptosis proteins in combination with ErbB antagonists in breast cancer 
Inhibitor of apoptosis (IAPs) proteins are a family of proteins that can block apoptosis in normal cells and have been suggested to cause resistance to apoptosis in cancer. Overexpression of oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases is common in breast cancer; in particular 20% of all cases show elevated Her2. Despite clinical success with the use of targeted therapies, such as Trastuzumab, only up to 35% of Her2-positive patients initially respond. We reasoned that IAP-mediated apoptosis resistance might contribute to this insensitivity to receptor tyrosine kinase therapy, in particular ErbB antagonists. Here we examine the levels of IAPs in breast cancer and evaluate whether targeting IAPs can enhance apoptosis in response to growth factor receptor antagonists and TRAIL.
IAP levels were examined in a breast cancer cell line panel and in patient samples. IAPs were inhibited using siRNA or cell permeable mimetics of endogenous inhibitors. Cells were then exposed to TRAIL, Trastuzumab, Lapatinib, or Gefitinib for 48 hours. Examining nuclear morphology and staining for cleaved caspase 3 was used to score apoptosis. Proliferation was examined by Ki67 staining.
Four members of the IAP family, Survivin, XIAP, cIAP1 and cIAP2, were all expressed to varying extents in breast cancer cell lines or tumours. MDAMB468, BT474 and BT20 cells all expressed XIAP to varying extents. Depleting the cells of XIAP overcame the intrinsic resistance of BT20 and MDAMB468 cells to TRAIL. Moreover, siRNA-based depletion of XIAP or use of a Smac mimetic to target multiple IAPs increased apoptosis in response to the ErbB antagonists, Trastuzumab, Lapatinib or Gefitinib in Her2-overexpressing BT474 cells, or Gefitinib in EGFR-overexpressing MDAMB468 cells.
The novel findings of this study are that multiple IAPs are concomitantly expressed in breast cancers, and that, in combination with clinically relevant Her2 treatments, IAP antagonists promote apoptosis and reduce the cell turnover index of breast cancers. We also show that combination therapy of IAP antagonists with some pro-apoptotic agents (for example, TRAIL) enhances apoptosis of breast cancer cells. In some cases (for example, MDAMB468 cells), the enhanced apoptosis is profound.
PMCID: PMC2716510  PMID: 19563669
14.  Phase I/II Trial of AEG35156 X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein Antisense Oligonucleotide Combined With Idarubicin and Cytarabine in Patients With Relapsed or Primary Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(28):4741-4746.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is an inhibitor of caspases 3 and 9 which are overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and may contribute to chemoresistance. We report on a phase I/II trial of the XIAP antisense oligonucleotide AEG35156 in combination with reinduction chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods
Twenty-four patients with rapidly relapsed or refractory AML were treated with escalating doses of AEG35156 (12 to 250 mg/m2) as an intravenous solution over 2 hours and 32 patients were treated with the highest planned dose of 350 mg/m2 in combination with idarubicin and high-dose cytarabine reinduction chemotherapy. Correlative studies were conducted to determine the effects of AEG35156 on levels of XIAP mRNA.
Knockdown of XIAP mRNA during treatment increased with the dose of the antisense. All patients who received 350 mg/m2 of AEG35156 had higher than 30% target knockdown with a median maximal knockdown of 90% (range, 48% to 100%). The overall response rate was higher among the patients receiving the highest dose of AEG35156. In this group, 15 (47%) of 32 patients achieved complete response (CR)/CR with incomplete platelet count recovery (CRp) compared with only one (4%) of 24 receiving 12 to 250 mg/m2 AEG35156. Among the patients receiving 350 mg/m2 of AEG35156 in combination with chemotherapy, 10 (91%) of 11 who were refractory to a single induction chemotherapy regimen achieved CR/CRp after reinduction with AEG35156 and chemotherapy. AEG35156 was well tolerated save for two cases of peripheral neuropathy in patients receiving multiple doses of AEG35156.
At the highest dose tested, AEG35156 knocks down its target and appears very effective when combined with chemotherapy in patients with AML refractory to a single induction regimen.
PMCID: PMC5073380  PMID: 19652057
15.  X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis positive nuclear labeling: a new independent prognostic biomarker of breast invasive ductal carcinoma 
Diagnostic Pathology  2011;6:49.
It's well recognized that X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) was the most potent caspase inhibitor and second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase (Smac) was the antagonist of XIAP. Experiments in vitro identified that down regulation of XIAP expression or applying Smac mimics could sensitize breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutics and promote apoptosis. However, expression status and biologic or prognostic significance of XIAP/Smac in breast invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) were not clear. The present study aimed to investigate relationship among expression status of XIAP/Smac, apoptosis index (AI), clinicopathologic parameters and prognosis in IDC.
Immunohistochemistry and TUNEL experiment were performed to detect expression of XIAP, Smac, ER, PR, HER2 and AI in 102 cases of paraffin-embedded IDC samples respectively. Expression of XIAP/Smac were also detected in limited 8 cases of fresh IDC specimens with Western blot.
Positive ratio and immunoscore of XIAP was markedly higher than Smac in IDC (P < 0.0001). It was noteworthy that 44 cases of IDC were positive in nuclear for XIAP, but none was for Smac. Expression status of Smac was more prevalent in HER2 positive group than negative group (P < 0.0001) and AI was positively correlated with HER2 protein expression (rs = 0.265, P = 0.017). The present study first revealed that XIAP positive nuclear labeling (XIAP-N), but not cytoplasmic staining (XIAP-C), was the apoptotic marker correlated significantly with patients' shortened overall survival (P = 0.039). Survival analysis demonstrated that XIAP-N was a new independent prognostic factor except for patient age and lymph node status.
Disturbed balance of expression between XIAP and Smac probably contributed to carcinogenesis and XIAP positive nuclear labeling was a new independent prognostic biomarker of breast IDC.
PMCID: PMC3126758  PMID: 21645409
XIAP nuclear labeling; Smac; apoptosis index; prognosis
16.  USP9X stabilizes XIAP to regulate mitotic cell death and chemoresistance in aggressive B‐cell lymphoma 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2016;8(8):851-862.
The mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) maintains genome stability and marks an important target for antineoplastic therapies. However, it has remained unclear how cells execute cell fate decisions under conditions of SAC‐induced mitotic arrest. Here, we identify USP9X as the mitotic deubiquitinase of the X‐linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) and demonstrate that deubiquitylation and stabilization of XIAP by USP9X lead to increased resistance toward mitotic spindle poisons. We find that primary human aggressive B‐cell lymphoma samples exhibit high USP9X expression that correlate with XIAP overexpression. We show that high USP9X/XIAP expression is associated with shorter event‐free survival in patients treated with spindle poison‐containing chemotherapy. Accordingly, aggressive B‐cell lymphoma lines with USP9X and associated XIAP overexpression exhibit increased chemoresistance, reversed by specific inhibition of either USP9X or XIAP. Moreover, knockdown of USP9X or XIAP significantly delays lymphoma development and increases sensitivity to spindle poisons in a murine Eμ‐Myc lymphoma model. Together, we specify the USP9X–XIAP axis as a regulator of the mitotic cell fate decision and propose that USP9X and XIAP are potential prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets in aggressive B‐cell lymphoma.
PMCID: PMC4967940  PMID: 27317434
B‐cell lymphoma; mitosis; ubiquitin; USP9X; XIAP; Cancer; Haematology
17.  Reactivation of Smac-mediated apoptosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells: mechanistic studies of Smac mimetic 
Oncotarget  2016;7(26):39458-39472.
Dysfunctional apoptotic machinery is a hallmark feature of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Accordingly, targeting apoptosis regulators has been proven a rational approach for CLL treatment. We show that CLL lymphocytes express high levels of XIAP, cIAP1, and cIAP2 compared to normal lymphocytes. Smac mimetic, Smac066, designed to bind to BIR3-domain of IAPs, induce apoptosis in primary CLL cells (n=71; p<0.0001), irrespective of prognostic markers. Apoptosis was mediated by diminished levels of IAPs (XIAP-p=0.02; cIAP-p<0.0001) and increased activation of caspases-8, −9, −3. The caspase-cleavage was in direct association with the levels of apoptosis (r2=0.8 for caspases-8, −9, −3). Correlative analysis revealed a direct relationship between reduction in IAPs and degree of apoptosis (r2=0.6 (XIAP); 0.5 (cIAP2)). There was a strong association between apoptosis, IAP-degradation, and concurrent caspase-activation. Pan-caspase inhibitor Z-Vad-fmk reversed the degradation of Mcl-1, but not IAPs suggesting that smac066 is selective to IAPs, however, Mcl-1 degradation is through caspase-mediated cleavage. Immunoprecipitation experiments revealed physical interaction between caspase-3 and XIAP that was disrupted by smac066. Importantly, XIAP and cIAP2 were markedly induced in bone-marrow and lymph-node microenvironments, providing a basis for IAP antagonists as anti-tumor agents in CLL. Smac066 synergized with ABT-737, revealing a mechanistic rationale to jointly target BH3 and BIR3 domains.
PMCID: PMC5129945  PMID: 27223062
CLL; Smac mimetic; IAPs; apoptosis; XIAP
18.  Enhancement of cellular radiation sensitivity through degradation of Chk1 by the XIAP-XAF1 complex 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2014;15(12):1622-1634.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) and Chk1 are potential molecular targets in radiotherapy. However, their molecular association in the regulation of radiation sensitivity has been rarely studied. Here, we show that XIAP modulates radiation sensitivity by regulating stability of Chk1 in lung cancer cells. Both Chk1 and XIAP are highly expressed in various lung cancer cells. Overexpression of XIAP increased cell survival following genotoxic treatments by preventing downregulation of Chk1. However, XIAP reversed Chk1-protective activity in the presence of XIAP-associated factor 1 (XAF1) by degrading Chk1 via ubiquitination-dependent proteasomal proteolysis. The XIAP-XAF1 complex-mediated Chk1 degradation also required CUL4A and DDB1. Chk1 or XIAP was associated with DDB1 and CUL4A. Depletion of CUL4A or DDB1 prevented the XIAP-XAF1-mediated Chk1 degradation suggesting involvement of a CUL4A/DDB1-based E3 ubiquitin ligase in the process or its collaboration with XIAP E3 ligase activity. Taken together, our findings show that XIAP plays a dual role in modulation of Chk1 stability and cell viability following IR. In the absence of XAF1, XIAP stabilizes Chk1 under IR with corresponding increase of cell viability. By contrast, when XAF1 is overexpressed, XIAP facilitates Chk1 degradation, which leads to enhancement of radiation sensitivity. This selective regulation of Chk1 stability by XIAP and XAF1 could be harnessed to devise a strategy to modulate radiation sensitivity in lung cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC4623052  PMID: 25535897
Chk1; DNA damage response; RING domain; radiation sensitivity; synthetic lethality; XIAP; XAF1
19.  XIAP Downregulation Promotes Caspase-dependent Inhibition of Proteasome Activity in AML Cells 
Leukemia research  2013;37(8):974-979.
To further understand the role of XIAP in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we suppressed XIAP expression by antisense oligonucleotides and determined the effect on gene expression profiles and biological pathways. XIAP inhibition upregulated expression of proteasome genes in a manner similar to the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib or MG132; decreased 20S proteasome activity, an effect which was diminished in the presence of a pan-caspase inhibitor; and increased IκBα, Mcl-1, and HSP70in AML cells. In addition to multiple functions already described, XIAP contributes to increased proteasome activity in AML cells, and the antitumor effect of XIAP inhibition may be mediated in part through caspase-dependent proteasome inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3700666  PMID: 23669290
XIAP; proteasome; gene expression; AML; caspase; IκBα
20.  X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein Inhibits Apoptosis in Inflammatory Breast Cancer Cells with Acquired Resistance to an ErbB1/2 Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(5):1432-1442.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a highly aggressive subtype of breast cancer that is often characterized by ErbB2 overexpression. ErbB2 targeting is clinically relevant using trastuzumab (anti-ErbB2 antibody) and lapatinib (small molecule ErbB1/2 inhibitor). However, acquired resistance is a common outcome even in IBC patients who show an initial clinical response, which limits the efficacy of these agents. In the present study, using a clonal population of GW583340 (lapatinib analog, ErbB1/2 inhibitor)-resistant IBC cells, we identified overexpression of an anti-apoptotic protein, XIAP, in acquired resistance to GW583340 in both ErbB2 overexpressing SUM190 and ErbB1 activated SUM149 cell lines derived from primary IBC tumors. A marked decrease in p-ErbB2, p-ErbB1, and downstream signaling was evident in the GW583340-resistant cells (rSUM190 and rSUM149) similar to parental counterparts treated with the drug, suggesting the primary mechanism of action of GW583340 was not compromised in resistant cells. However, rSUM190 and rSUM149 cells growing in GW583340 had significant XIAP overexpression and resistance to GW583340-mediated apoptosis. Additionally, stable XIAP overexpression using a lentiviral system reversed sensitivity to GW583340 in parental cells. The observed overexpression was identified to be caused by IRES-mediated XIAP translation. XIAP downregulation in rSUM190 and rSUM149 cells using a small molecule inhibitor (embelin), which abrogates the XIAP/procaspase 9 interaction, resulted in decreased viability, demonstrating that XIAP is required for survival of cells with acquired resistance to GW583340. These studies establish the feasibility of development of an XIAP inhibitor that potentiates apoptosis for use in IBC patients with resistance to ErbB2-targeting agents.
PMCID: PMC2957814  PMID: 20406946
IRES; embelin; survivin; FOXO3a; p-AKT
21.  Heat shock protein 72 suppresses apoptosis by increasing the stability of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein in renal ischemia/reperfusion injury 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2014;11(3):1793-1799.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) negatively regulates apoptotic pathways at a post-mitochondrial level. XIAP functions by directly binding and inhibiting activation of specific caspases. Upon apoptotic stimuli, mitochondrial second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (Smac)/direct IAP-binding protein with low PI (DIABLO) is released into the cytosol, which results in displacement of XIAP from caspases. Heat shock protein 72 (HSP72), an anti-apoptotic protein, prevents mitochondrial injury resulting from acute renal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), its role in Smac/DIABLO and XIAP signaling remains to be elucidated. In the present study, the hypothesis that HSP72 prevents XIAP degradation in vivo and in vitro was assessed. To this purpose, a rat model of I/R injury was used to investigate the renoprotective role of HSP72 by treatment with geranylgeranylacetone (GGA), a specific inducer of HSP72. The mechanism of the cytoprotective properties of HSP72 was also investigated in vitro using adenovirus-mediated overexpression of HSP72 in adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-depleted human kidney 2 (HK-2) cells. Pre-conditioning rats with GGA attenuated renal tubular cell damage, reduced cell apoptosis, preserved XIAP protein content and improved renal function following I/R injury. An in vitro study was performed in which cells were transiently exposed to 5 mM sodium cyanide in a glucose-free medium in order to induce apoptosis. Compared with the control, overexpression of HSP72 inhibited Smac/DIABLO release from the mitochondria and increased levels of XIAP and pro-caspase 3 in ATP-depleted HK-2 cells. In addition, HSP72 interacted with Smac/DIABLO. The present data demonstrates that HSP72 preserves renal function in I/R injury through its anti-apoptotic effects, which act by suppressing mitochondrial Smac/DIABLO release and preserving XIAP protein content.
PMCID: PMC4270332  PMID: 25394481
heat shock protein 72; apoptosis; acute kidney injury; X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein; second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases/direct IAP-binding protein with low PI
22.  X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein mediates tumor cell resistance to antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity 
Cell Death & Disease  2016;7(1):e2073-.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the deadliest, distinct subtype of breast cancer. High expression of epidermal growth factor receptors [EGFR or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)] in IBC tumors has prompted trials of anti-EGFR/HER2 monoclonal antibodies to inhibit oncogenic signaling; however, de novo and acquired therapeutic resistance is common. Another critical function of these antibodies is to mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), which enables immune effector cells to engage tumors and deliver granzymes, activating executioner caspases. We hypothesized that high expression of anti-apoptotic molecules in tumors would render them resistant to ADCC. Herein, we demonstrate that the most potent caspase inhibitor, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), overexpressed in IBC, drives resistance to ADCC mediated by cetuximab (anti-EGFR) and trastuzumab (anti-HER2). Overexpression of XIAP in parental IBC cell lines enhances resistance to ADCC; conversely, targeted downregulation of XIAP in ADCC-resistant IBC cells renders them sensitive. As hypothesized, this ADCC resistance is in part a result of the ability of XIAP to inhibit caspase activity; however, we also unexpectedly found that resistance was dependent on XIAP-mediated, caspase-independent suppression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, which otherwise occurs during ADCC. Transcriptome analysis supported these observations by revealing modulation of genes involved in immunosuppression and oxidative stress response in XIAP-overexpressing, ADCC-resistant cells. We conclude that XIAP is a critical modulator of ADCC responsiveness, operating through both caspase-dependent and -independent mechanisms. These results suggest that strategies targeting the effects of XIAP on caspase activation and ROS suppression have the potential to enhance the activity of monoclonal antibody-based immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4816185  PMID: 26821068
23.  XIAP inhibits mature Smac-induced apoptosis by degrading it through ubiquitination in NSCLC 
International Journal of Oncology  2016;49(4):1289-1296.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) and second mitochondrial-derived activator of caspase (Smac) are two important prognostic biomarkers for cancer. They are negatively correlated in many types of cancer. However, their relationship is still unknown in lung cancer. In the present study, we found that there was a negative correlation between Smac and XIAP at the level of protein but not mRNA in NSCLC patients. However, XIAP overexpression had no effect on degrading endogenous Smac in lung cancer cell lines. Therefore, we constructed plasmids with full length of Smac (fSmac) and mature Smac (mSmac) which located in cytoplasm instead of original mitochondrial location, and was confirmed by immunofluorescence. Subsequently, we found that mSmac rather than fSmac was degraded by XIAP and inhibited cell viability. CHX chase assay and ubiquitin assay were performed to illustrate XIAP degraded mSmac through ubiquitin pathway. Overexpression of XIAP partially reverted apoptotic induction and cell viability inhibition by mSmac, which was due to inhibiting caspase-3 activation. In nude mouse xenograft experiments, mSmac inhibited Ki-67 expression and slowed down lung cancer growth, while XIAP partially reversed the effect of mSmac by degrading it. In conclusion, XIAP inhibits mature Smac-induced apoptosis by degrading it through ubiquitination in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC5021253  PMID: 27498621
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein; Smac; apoptosis; ubiquitin; non-small cell lung cancer
24.  Inhibition of KSP by ARRY-520 Induces Cell Cycle Block and Cell Death via the Mitochondrial Pathway in AML Cells 
Leukemia  2009;23(10):1755-1762.
Kinesin spindle protein (KSP), a microtubule-associated motor protein essential for cell cycle progression, is overexpressed in many cancers and a potential anti-tumor target. We found that inhibition of KSP by a selective inhibitor, ARRY-520, blocked cell cycle progression, leading to apoptosis in acute myeloid leukemia cell lines which express high levels of KSP. Knockdown of p53, overexpression of XIAP, and mutation in caspase-8 did not significantly affect sensitivity to ARRY-520, suggesting that the response is independent of p53, XIAP, and the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. Although ARRY-520 induced mitotic arrest in both HL-60 and Bcl-2-overexpressing HL-60Bcl-2 cells, cell death was blunted in HL-60Bcl-2 cells, suggesting that the apoptotic program is executed through the mitochondrial pathway. Accordingly, inhibition of Bcl-2 by ABT-737 was synergistic with ARRY-520 in HL-60Bcl-2 cells. Furthermore, ARRY-520 increased Bim protein levels prior to caspase activation in HL-60 cells. ARRY-520 significantly inhibited tumor growth of xenografts in SCID mice and inhibited AML blast but not normal colony formation, supporting a critical role for KSP in proliferation of leukemic progenitor cells. These results demonstrate that ARRY-520 potently induces cell cycle block and subsequent death in leukemic cells via the mitochondrial pathway and has potential to eradicate AML progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC3593228  PMID: 19458629
KSP inhibitor ARRY-520; Eg5; cell cycle; apoptosis; mitochondrial pathway; AML
25.  X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Regulates Lung Fibroblast Resistance to Fas-Mediated Apoptosis 
The accumulation of apoptosis-resistant fibroblasts within fibroblastic foci is a characteristic feature of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), but the mechanisms underlying apoptosis resistance remain unclear. A role for the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) protein family member X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) has been suggested by prior studies showing that (1) XIAP is localized to fibroblastic foci in IPF tissue and (2) prostaglandin E2 suppresses XIAP expression while increasing fibroblast susceptibility to apoptosis. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that XIAP would be regulated by the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor (TGF)β-1 and endothelin (ET)-1 and that increased XIAP would contribute to apoptosis resistance in IPF fibroblasts. To address these hypotheses, we examined XIAP expression in normal and IPF fibroblasts at baseline and in normal fibroblasts after treatment with TGF-β1 or ET-1. The role of XIAP in the regulation of fibroblast susceptibility to Fas-mediated apoptosis was examined using functional XIAP antagonists and siRNA silencing. In concordance with prior reports, fibroblasts from IPF lung tissue had increased resistance to apoptosis compared with normal lung fibroblasts. Compared with normal fibroblasts, IPF fibroblasts had significantly but heterogeneously increased basal XIAP expression. Additionally, TGF-β1 and ET-1 induced XIAP protein expression in normal fibroblasts. Inhibition or silencing of XIAP enhanced the sensitivity of lung fibroblasts to Fas-mediated apoptosis without causing apoptosis in the absence of Fas activation. Collectively, these findings support a mechanistic role for XIAP in the apoptosis-resistant phenotype of IPF fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3727886  PMID: 23492187
myofibroblast; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; inhibitor of apoptosis; lung fibrosis; apoptosis

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