Sensitivity: Resistance to Therapy and Apoptosis

Deficient activation of the CD95 (APO-1/Fas) system in drug-resistant cells


The molecular mechanisms for sensitivity and resistance of tumor cells towards chemotherapy are only partially understood. In chemosensitive leukemias and solid tumors, anticancer drugs have been shown to induce apoptosis. We previously identified activation of the CD95 (APO-1/Fas) receptor/CD95 ligand (CD95/CD95-L) system as a key mechanism for drug-induced apoptosis. Here, we show that therapeutic concentrations of doxorubicin, methotrexate and cytarabine also induce apoptosis via activation of the CD95 system in primary leukemia cells in vivo. CD95-resistant and doxorubicin-resistant leukemia and neuroblastoma cells display cross-resistance for induction of cell death. Down-regulation of CD95 expression was found in drug-resistant and CD95-resistant cell lines. Furthermore, up-regulation of CD95-L, previously shown to mediate drug-induced apoptosis in a variety of tumor cells, was completely blocked in doxorubicin-resistant cells. The prototype caspase (ICE/Ced-3 protease) substrate, poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP), was cleaved in sensitive, but not in resistant tumor cells following CD95 triggering or drug treatment. Since failure to activate CD95-L was not due to decreased drug uptake or increased drug efflux, non-multi-drug resistance (non-MDR) mechanisms are involved in this type of resistance. These findings suggested that an intact CD95 system plays a key role in determining sensitivity or resistance towards anticancer therapy.

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Friesen, C., Fulda, S. & Debatin, KM. Deficient activation of the CD95 (APO-1/Fas) system in drug-resistant cells. Leukemia 11, 1833–1841 (1997).

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  • CD95
  • CD95 ligand
  • apoptosis
  • drug resistance

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