Author(s): Bantel H, Engels IH, Voelter W, SchulzeOsthoff K, Wesselborg S
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Abstract Mistletoe lectin I (ML-I) is a major active component in plant extracts of Viscum album that is increasingly used in adjuvant cancer therapy. ML-I exerts potent immunomodulating and cytotoxic effects, although its mechanism of action is largely unknown. We show that treatment of leukemic T- and B-cell lines with ML-I induced apoptosis, which required the prior activation of proteases of the caspase family. The involvement of caspases is demonstrated because (a) a peptide caspase inhibitor almost completely prevented ML-I-induced cell death and (b) proteolytic activation of caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-3 was observed. Because caspase-8 has been implicated as a regulator of apoptosis mediated by death receptors, we further investigated a potential receptor involvement in ML-I-induced effects. Cell death triggered by ML-I was neither attenuated in cell clones resistant to CD95 nor in cells that were rendered refractory to other death receptors by overexpressing a dominant-negative FADD mutant. In contrast, ML-I triggered a receptor-independent mitochondria-controlled apoptotic pathway because it rapidly induced the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. Because ML-I was also observed to enhance the cytotoxic effect of chemotherapeutic drugs, these data may provide a molecular basis for clinical trials using MLs in anticancer therapy.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy