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Paclitaxel (Taxol)-induced cell death requires the intrinsic cell death pathway, but the specific participants and the precise mechanisms are poorly understood. Previous studies indicate that a BH3-only protein BIM (BCL-2 Interacting Mediator of cell death) plays a role in paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. We show here that BIM is dispensable in apoptosis with paclitaxel treatment using bim−/− MEFs (mouse embryonic fibroblasts), the bim−/− mouse breast tumor model, and shRNA-mediated down-regulation of BIM in human breast cancer cells. In contrast, both bak−/− MEFs and human breast cancer cells in which BAK was down-regulated by shRNA were more resistant to paclitaxel. However, paclitaxel sensitivity was not affected in bax−/−MEFs or in human breast cancer cells in which BAX was down-regulated, suggesting that paclitaxel-induced apoptosis is BAK-dependent, but BAX-independent. In human breast cancer cells, paclitaxel treatment resulted in MCL-1 degradation which was prevented by a proteasome inhibitor, MG132. A Cdk inhibitor, roscovitine, blocked paclitaxel-induced MCL-1 degradation and apoptosis, suggesting that Cdk activation at mitotic arrest could induce subsequent MCL-1 degradation in a proteasome-dependent manner. BAK was associated with MCL-1 in untreated cells and became activated in concert with loss of MCL-1 expression and its release from the complex. Our data suggest that BAK is the mediator of paclitaxel-induced apoptosis and could be an alternative target for overcoming paclitaxel resistance.
© 2013 Miller et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research Publications