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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.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  Phenethyl Isothiocyanate Suppresses Inhibitor of Apoptosis Family Protein Expression in Prostate Cancer Cells in Culture and In Vivo 
The Prostate  2011;72(10):1104-1116.
Cruciferous vegetable constituent phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) causes apoptosis in prostate cancer cells through mechanisms not fully understood. The present study was designed to determine the role of inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family proteins in PEITC-induced apoptosis induction.
Effect of PEITC treatment on protein and mRNA expression of IAP in cells was determined by western blotting and reverse transcription PCR, respectively. Immunohistochemistry was performed to determine the in vivo effect of PEITC administration on X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) and Survivin protein expression. Overexpression of desired protein was achieved by transient transfection. Cell viability was determined by trypan blue dye exclusion assay, whereas apoptosis was quantified by measurement of histone-associated DNA fragment release into the cytosol. Transwell chamber assay was used to determine cell migration.
Exposure of PC-3 and LNCaP human prostate cancer cells to PEITC resulted in downregulation of XIAP and Survivin proteins and Survivin mRNA. PEITC administration to Transgenic Adenocarcinoma of Mouse Prostate mice caused modest but significant downregulation of XIAP and Survivin proteins in the dorsolateral prostate. Proapoptotic response to PEITC was significantly attenuated by ectopic expression of XIAP and Survivin proteins. Survivin overexpression also conferred modest but significant protection against PEITC-mediated inhibition of PC-3 cell migration.
The present study demonstrates that cellular responses to PEITC, including apoptosis induction and inhibition of cell migration, in prostate cancer cells are mediated by downregulation of XIAP and/or Survivin, which may serve as valid biomarkers of PEITC response in future clinical investigations.
PMCID: PMC3310272  PMID: 22161756
Phenethyl Isothiocyanate; XIAP; Survivin; Chemoprevention
18.  Stabilization of XIAP mRNA through the RNA binding protein HuR regulated by cellular polyamines 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(22):7623-7637.
The X chromosome-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is the most potent intrinsic caspase inhibitor and plays an important role in the maintenance of intestinal epithelial integrity. The RNA binding protein, HuR, regulates the stability and translation of many target transcripts. Here, we report that HuR associated with both the 3′-untranslated region and coding sequence of the mRNA encoding XIAP, stabilized the XIAP transcript and elevated its expression in intestinal epithelial cells. Ectopic HuR overexpression or elevated cytoplasmic levels of endogenous HuR by decreasing cellular polyamines increased [HuR/XIAP mRNA] complexes, in turn promoting XIAP mRNA stability and increasing XIAP protein abundance. Conversely, HuR silencing in normal and polyamine-deficient cells rendered the XIAP mRNA unstable, thus reducing the steady state levels of XIAP. Inhibition of XIAP expression by XIAP silencing or by HuR silencing reversed the resistance of polyamine-deficient cells to apoptosis. Our findings demonstrate that HuR regulates XIAP expression by stabilizing its mRNA and implicates HuR-mediated XIAP in the control of intestinal epithelial apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2794158  PMID: 19825980
19.  Structural Insight into Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins Recognition by a Potent Divalent Smac-Mimetic 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49527.
Genetic alterations enhancing cell survival and suppressing apoptosis are hallmarks of cancer that significantly reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein (IAP) family hosts conserved proteins in the apoptotic pathway whose over-expression, frequently found in tumours, potentiates survival and resistance to anticancer agents. In humans, IAPs comprise eight members hosting one or more structural Baculoviral IAP Repeat (BIR) domains. Cellular IAPs (cIAP1 and 2) indirectly inhibit caspase-8 activation, and regulate both the canonical and the non-canonical NF-κB signaling pathways. In contrast to cIAPs, XIAP (X chromosome-linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein) inhibits directly the effector caspases-3 and -7 through its BIR2 domain, and initiator caspase-9 through its BIR3 domain; molecular docking studies suggested that Smac/DIABLO antagonizes XIAP by simultaneously targeting both BIR2 and BIR3 domains. Here we report analytical gel filtration, crystallographic and SAXS experiments on cIAP1-BIR3, XIAP-BIR3 and XIAP-BIR2BIR3 domains, alone and in the presence of compound 9a, a divalent homodimeric Smac mimetic. 9a is shown to bind two BIR domains inter- (in the case of two BIR3) and intra-molecularly (in the case of XIAP-BIR2BIR3), with higher affinity for cIAP1-BIR3, relative to XIAP-BIR3. Despite the different crystal lattice packing, 9a maintains a right handed helical conformation in both cIAP1-BIR3 and XIAP-BIR3 crystals, that is likely conserved in solution as shown by SAXS data. Our structural results demonstrate that the 9a linker length, its conformational degrees of freedom and its hydrophobicity, warrant an overall compact structure with optimal solvent exposure of its two active moieties for IAPs binding. Our results show that 9a is a good candidate for pre-clinical and clinical studies, worth of further investigations in the field of cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3499469  PMID: 23166698
20.  Apoptosis-Inducing Factor Is a Target for Ubiquitination through Interaction with XIAP▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;28(1):237-247.
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) is an inhibitor of apoptotic cell death that protects cells by caspase-dependent and independent mechanisms. In a screen for molecules that participate with XIAP in regulating cellular activities, we identified apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) as an XIAP binding protein. Baculoviral IAP repeat 2 of XIAP is sufficient for the XIAP/AIF interaction, which is disrupted by Smac/DIABLO. In healthy cells, mature human AIF lacks only the first 54 amino acids, differing significantly from the apoptotic form, which lacks the first 102 amino-terminal residues. Fluorescence complementation and immunoprecipitation experiments revealed that XIAP interacts with both AIF forms. AIF was found to be a target of XIAP-mediated ubiquitination under both normal and apoptotic conditions, and an E3 ubiquitin ligase-deficient XIAP variant displayed a more robust interaction with AIF. Expression of either XIAP or AIF attenuated both basal and antimycin A-stimulated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and when XIAP and AIF were expressed in combination, a cumulative decrease in ROS was observed. These results identify AIF as a new XIAP binding partner and indicate a role for XIAP in regulating cellular ROS.
PMCID: PMC2223279  PMID: 17967870
21.  A small molecule inhibitor of XIAP induces apoptosis and synergises with vinorelbine and cisplatin in NSCLC 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;102(1):97-103.
Evasion of apoptosis contributes to the pathogenesis of solid tumours including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Malignant cells resist apoptosis through over-expression of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), such as X-linked IAP (XIAP).
A phenylurea-based small molecule inhibitor of XIAP, XIAP antagonist compound (XAC) 1396-11, was investigated preclincally to determine its ability to sensitise to clinically relevant cytotoxics, potentially allowing dose reduction while maintaining therapeutic efficacy.
XIAP protein expression was detected in six NSCLC cell lines examined. The cytotoxicity of XAC 1396-11 against cultured NSCLC cell lines in vitro was concentration- and time-dependent in both short-term and clonogenic assays. XAC 1396-11-induced apoptosis was confirmed by PARP cleavage and characteristic nuclear morphology. XAC 1396-11 synergised with vinorelbine±cisplatin in H460 and A549 NSCLC cells. The mechanism of synergy was enhanced apoptosis, shown by increased cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP and by the reversal of synergy by a pan-caspase inhibitor. Synergy between XAC 1396-11 and vinorelbine was augmented by optimising drug scheduling with superior effects when XAC 1396-11 was administered before vinorelbine.
These preclinical data suggest that XIAP inhibition in combination with vinorelbine holds potential as a therapeutic strategy in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2813749  PMID: 19904270
XIAP antagonist compound; XIAP; XAC 1396-11; apoptosis, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
22.  LBH-589 (Panobinostat) potentiates fludarabine anti-leukemic activity through a JNK- and XIAP-dependent mechanism 
Leukemia Research  2011;36(4):491-498.
Effects of the HDAC inhibitor LBH-589 (panobinostat) on fludarabine lethality toward acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells were examined in vitro and in vivo. LBH-589 pretreatment sensitized U937, HL-60, and primary leukemia cells to fludarabine while blocking NF-κB activation accompanied by XIAP down-regulation and JNK activation. Pharmacologic or genetic JNK inhibition significantly attenuated LBH-589/fludarabine lethality, whereas XIAP over-expression diminished JNK activation and apoptosis. Combined in vivo treatment abrogated leukemia growth in a U937 xenograft murine model and substantially increased animal survival. These studies highlight the interplay between NF-κB activation, XIAP down-regulation, and JNK activation in anti-leukemic synergism between fludarabine and LBH-589.
PMCID: PMC3288169  PMID: 22074700
AML; histone deacetylase inhibitor; fludarabine
23.  Comparison between axonal and retinal ganglion cell gene expression in various optic nerve injuries including glaucoma 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:2526-2541.
The pathogenesis of retinal ganglion cell loss in glaucoma remains incompletely understood. Current evidence suggests that the optic nerve (ON) head and axons are the main site of injury in glaucoma. This study compares changes in prosurvival and proapoptotic gene expression in ONs with those in retinas in three models of ocular injury, specifically ON transection (ONTX), N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) retinal toxicity, and experimental glaucoma.
Rats (n=240) were divided into three models (ONTX, NMDA retinal toxicity, and experimental glaucoma). The experimental model was induced unilaterally and the contralateral eye served as control. Rats were sacrificed at 4–5 different time points specific for each model. ONs and retinas were isolated for real-time PCR investigation of expression of selected genes. Immunohistochemistry localized changes in inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP)-1 and X-linked IAP (XIAP) proteins in retinas and ONs. Colocalization was measured using Imaris colocalization software (three-dimensional analysis).
The earliest changes in gene expression occurred in ONs in the ONTX model and in retinas in the NMDA model, as expected. However, some gene changes occurred first in ONs, while others occurred first in retinas in the glaucoma model. The expression patterns of the prosurvival genes IAP-1 and XIAP differed between retinas and ONs of glaucomatous eyes: Both were upregulated in the retinas, but XIAP was downregulated in the ONs, while IAP-1 stayed unchanged. Colocalization of IAP-1, XIAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and Thymus cell antigen-1 (Thy-1) suggested that IAP-1 was colocalized mostly with Thy-1 and XIAP with glial fibrillary acidic protein in the ONs. Members of the B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family were similarly involved in the ONs and retinas of glaucomatous, transected, and NMDA-injected eyes. The expression of the prosurvival genes, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl, decreased significantly in both the ONs and retinas of injured eyes. The proapoptotic genes, BCL2-associated X protein (BAX) and Bcl-2-associated death promoter (BAD), were significantly upregulated in both injured retinas and ONs.
The overexpression of XIAP and IAP-1 genes in the retinas was not associated with similar changes in the ONs of glaucomatous eyes. The lack of activation of these prosurvival genes in the ONs may explain the increased vulnerability of ONs to elevated intraocular pressure.
PMCID: PMC3867164  PMID: 24357921
24.  Caffeic acid phenethyl ester suppresses melanoma tumor growth by inhibiting PI3K/AKT/XIAP pathway 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(9):2061-2070.
Melanoma is highly metastatic and resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs. Our previous studies have demonstrated that caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) suppresses the growth of melanoma cells and induces reactive oxygen species generation. However, the exact mechanism of the growth suppressive effects of CAPE was not clear. Here, we determined the potential mechanism of CAPE against melanoma in vivo and in vitro. Administration of 10 mg/kg/day CAPE substantially suppressed the growth of B16F0 tumor xenografts in C57BL/6 mice. Tumors from CAPE-treated mice showed reduced phosphorylation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase, AKT, mammalian target of rapamycin and protein level of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) and enhanced the cleavage of caspase-3 and poly (ADP ribose) polymerase. In order to confirm the in vivo observations, melanoma cells were treated with CAPE. CAPE treatment suppressed the activating phosphorylation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase at Tyr 458, phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 at Ser 241, mammalian target of rapamycin at Ser 2448 and AKT at Ser 473 in B16F0 and SK-MEL-28 cells in a concentration and time-dependent study. Furthermore, the expression of XIAP, survivin and BCL-2 was downregulated by CAPE treatment in both cell lines. Significant apoptosis was observed by CAPE treatment as indicated by cleavage of caspase-3 and poly (ADP ribose) polymerase. AKT kinase activity was inhibited by CAPE in a concentration-dependent manner. CAPE treatment increased the nuclear translocation of XIAP, indicating increased apoptosis in melanoma cells. To confirm the involvement of reactive oxygen species in the inhibition of AKT/XIAP pathway, cells were treated with antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) prior to CAPE treatment. Our results indicate that NAC blocked CAPE-mediated AKT/XIAP inhibition and protected the cells from apoptosis. Because AKT regulates XIAP, their interaction was examined by immunoprecipitation studies. Our results show that CAPE treatment decreased the interaction of AKT with XIAP. To establish the involvement of AKT in the apoptosis-inducing effects of CAPE, cells were transfected with AKT. Our results revealed that AKT overexpression attenuated the decrease in XIAP and significantly blocked CAPE-mediated apoptosis. Similarly, overexpression of XIAP further decreased CAPE-induced apoptosis. Taken together, our results suggest that CAPE suppresses phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT/XIAP pathway leading to apoptosis in melanoma tumor cells in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3765043  PMID: 23640046
25.  Targeting the apoptotic machinery in pancreatic cancers using small-molecule antagonists of the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2007;6(3):957-966.
Resistance to apoptosis is a hallmark of many solid tumors, including pancreatic cancers, and may be the underlying basis for the suboptimal response to chemo-radiation therapies. Overexpression of a family of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) is commonly observed in pancreatic malignancies. We determined the therapeutic efficacy of recently described small-molecule antagonists of the X-linked IAP (XIAP) in preclinical models of pancreatic cancer. Primary pancreatic cancers were assessed for XIAP expression by immunohistochemistry, using a pancreatic cancer tissue microarray. XIAP small-molecule antagonists (“XAntag”; compounds 1396-11 and 1396-12) and the related compound 1396-28 were tested in vitro in a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines (Panc1, Capan1, and BxPC3) and in vivo in s.c. xenograft models for their ability to induce apoptosis and impede neoplastic growth. In addition, pancreatic cancer cell lines were treated with XAntags in conjunction with either tumor necrosis factor–related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) or with radiation to determine potential synergy for such dual targeting of the apoptotic machinery. XIAP was overexpressed in 14 of 18 (77%) of primary pancreatic cancers. The XAntags 1396-11 and 1396-12, but not the inactive isomer 1396-28, induced profound apoptosis in multiple pancreatic cancer cell lines tested in vitro, with a IC50 in the range of 2 to 5 μmol/L. Mechanistic specificity of the XAntags for the baculoviral IAP repeat-2 domain of XIAP was shown by preferential activation of downstream “effector” caspases (caspase-3 and caspase-7) versus the upstream “initiator” caspase-9. S.c. BxPC3 xenograft growth in athymic mice was significantly inhibited by monotherapy with XAntags; treated xenografts showed marked apoptosis and increased cleavage of caspase-3. Notably, striking synergy was demonstrable when XAntags were combined with either TRAIL or radiation therapy, as measured by growth inhibition in vitro and reduced colony formation in soft agar of pancreatic cancer cell lines, at dosages where these therapeutic modalities had minimal to modest effects when used alone. Finally, XAntags in combination with the standard-of-care agent for advanced pancreatic cancer, gemcitabine, resulted in significantly greater inhibition of in vitro growth than gemcitabine alone. Our results confirm that pharmacologic inhibition of XIAP is a potent therapeutic modality in pancreatic cancers. These antagonists are independently capable of inducing pancreatic cancer cell death and also show synergy when combined with proapoptotic ligands (TRAIL), with radiation, and with a conventional antimetabolite, gemcitabine. These preclinical results suggest that targeting of the apoptotic machinery in pancreatic cancers with XAntags is a promising therapeutic option that warrants further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3062431  PMID: 17339366

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