Interaction of translationally controlled tumor protein with Apaf-1 is involved in the development of chemoresistance in HeLa cells

Jaehoon Jung, Hyo Y. Kim, Jeehye Maeng, Moonhee Kim, Dong H. Shin, Kyunglim Lee

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29 Scopus citations


Background: Translationally controlled tumor protein (TCTP), alternatively called fortilin, is believed to be involved in the development of the chemoresistance of tumor cells against anticancer drugs such as etoposide, taxol, and oxaliplatin, the underlying mechanisms of which still remain elusive.Methods: Cell death analysis of TCTP-overexpressing HeLa cells was performed following etoposide treatment to assess the mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. Apoptotic pathway was analyzed through measuring the cleavage of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and phospholipase C-γ (PLC-γ), caspase activation, mitochondrial membrane perturbation, and cytochrome c release by flow cytometry and western blotting. To clarify the role of TCTP in the inhibition of apoptosome, in vitro apoptosome reconstitution and immunoprecipitation was used. Pull-down assay and silver staining using the variants of Apaf-1 protein was applied to identify the domain that is responsible for its interaction with TCTP.Results: In the present study, we confirmed that adenoviral overexpression of TCTP protects HeLa cells from cell death induced by cytotoxic drugs such as taxol and etoposide. TCTP antagonized the mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway following etoposide treatment, including mitochondrial membrane damage and resultant cytochrome c release, activation of caspase-9, and -3, and eventually, the cleavage of EGFR and PLC-γ. More importantly, TCTP interacts with the caspase recruitment domain (CARD) of Apaf-1 and is incorporated into the heptameric Apaf-1 complex, and that C-terminal cleaved TCTP specifically associates with Apaf-1 of apoptosome in apoptosome-forming condition thereby inhibiting the amplification of caspase cascade.Conclusions: TCTP protects the cancer cells from etoposide-induced cell death by inhibiting the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway. Interaction of TCTP with Apaf-1 in apoptosome is involved in the molecular mechanism of TCTP-induced chemoresistance. These findings suggest that TCTP may serve as a therapeutic target for chemoresistance in cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare [A111417(HI11C1371)] and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) [2012R1A1A2042142] [2012M3A9A8053272].


  • Apaf-1
  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Chemoresistance
  • TCTP


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