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    Targeting of extrinsic apoptosis pathway by TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is an attractive approach for cancer therapy. However, two TRAIL drug candidates failed in clinical trials due to lack of efficacy. We identified 17-hydroxy wortmannin (17-HW) in a drug repurposing screen that resensitized TRAIL's response in the resistant colon cancer cells. The deficiency of caspase-8 in drug-resistant cells along with defects in apoptotic cell death was corrected by 17-HW, an inhibitor of PIK3C3-beclin 1 (BECN1) complex and autophagy activity. Further study found that BECN1 significantly increased in the TRAIL-resistant cells, resulting in increased autophagosome formation and enhanced autophagy flux. The extracellular domain (ECD) of BECN1 directly bound to the caspase-8 catalytic subunit (p10), leading to sequestration of caspase-8 in the autophagosome and its subsequent degradation. Inhibition of BECN1 restored the caspase-8 level and TRAIL's apoptotic response in the resistant colon cancer cells. An analysis of 120 colon cancer patient tissues revealed a correlation of a subgroup of patients (30.8%, 37/120) who have high BECN1 level and low caspase-8 level with a poor survival rate. Our study demonstrates that the increased BECN1 accompanied by enhanced autophagy activity is responsible for the TRAIL resistance, and a combination of TRAIL with a PIK3C3-BECN1 inhibitor is a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of colon cancer. ©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.


    Sheng Dai, Shu Yang, Xin Hu, Wei Sun, Gregory Tawa, Wenge Zhu, Aaron D Schimmer, Chao He, Bingliang Fang, Hongbo Zhu, Wei Zheng. 17-Hydroxy Wortmannin Restores TRAIL's Response by Ameliorating Increased Beclin 1 Level and Autophagy Function in TRAIL-Resistant Colon Cancer Cells. Molecular cancer therapeutics. 2019 Jul;18(7):1265-1277

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    PMID: 31092562

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