Recent evidence has supported the hypothesis that chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation induce an apoptotic pathway that requires the active participation of the cell. One pathway of apoptosis in malignant lymphoid cells is mediated by the Fas antigen. We studied the human myeloma (8226) and T-cell leukemia (CEM) cell lines selected for resistance to the anthracenes, doxorubicin or mitoxantrone, by continuous culture in the presence of either agent. We found that these drug-resistant cell lines were also resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. The degree of resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis correlated directly with the level of resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. These observations indicate that, as cancer cell lines develop mechanisms of drug resistance, they may also develop mechanisms of resistance to physiologic signals of apoptosis. Two mechanisms of resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis were observed in these cell lines. One mechanism was associated with a dose-dependent reduction in the surface expression of Fas antigen. Analysis of RNA by reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction assays showed that the reduction of Fas antigen expression occurred at the level of transcription. A second mechanism of drug resistance showed no decrease of Fas antigen expression; however, the apoptotic response was diminished. In this situation, removal of the chemotherapeutic agent resulted in a partial reversion to chemosensitivity end re-expression of the Fas antigen, but these cell lines did not regain the ability to undergo apoptosis in response to cross-linking by anti-Fas antibody. These findings support the hypothesis that apoptosis mediated by both chemotherapeutic agents and physiologic stimuli may share a common downstream effector. The demonstration that selection for drug resistance in hematopoietic cell lines results in a simultaneous resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis may have clinical implications in the development of strategies for the treatment of resistant disease. Further analysis of the molecular mechanisms of Fas expression and function will facilitate the design of biological response modifying agents for the treatment of malignancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology