Int J Mol Sci 2017 Nov 29;18(12). Epub 2017 Nov 29.
Department of Immunology, School of Mediine, Keimyung University, 2800 Dalgubeoldaero, Dalseo-Gu, Daegu 704-701, Korea.
Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) plays major roles in cell cycle control and DNA damage response. Therefore, PLK1 has been investigated as a target for cancer therapy. Volasertib is the second-in class dihydropteridinone derivate that is a specific PLK1 inhibitor. In this study, we examined that combining PLK1 inhibitor with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) would have an additive and synergistic effect on induction of apoptosis in cancer cells. We found that volasertib alone and TRAIL alone had no effect on apoptosis, but the combined treatment of volasertib and TRAIL markedly induced apoptosis in Caki (renal carcinoma), A498 (renal carcinoma) and A549 (lung carcinoma) cells, but not in normal cells (human skin fibroblast cells and mesangial cells). Combined treatment induced accumulation of sub-G1 phase, DNA fragmentation, cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and activation of caspase 3 activity in Caki cells. Interestingly, combined treatment induced downregulation of cellular-FLICE-inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) expression and ectopic expression of c-FLIP markedly blocked combined treatment-induced apoptosis. Therefore, this study demonstrates that volasertib may sensitize TRAIL-induced apoptosis in Caki cells via downregulation of c-FLIP.