Chemo- and radiotherapeutic responses of leukemia cells are modified by integrin-mediated adhesion to extracellular matrix. To further characterize the molecular mechanisms by which β1 integrins confer radiation and chemoresistance, HL60 human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells stably transfected with β1 integrin and A3 Jurkat T-lymphoma cells deficient for Fas-associated death domain protein or procaspase-8 were examined.
Upon exposure to X-rays, Ara-C or FasL, suspension and adhesion (fibronectin (FN), laminin, collagen-1; 5–100 µg/cm2 coating concentration) cultures were processed for measurement of apoptosis, mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP), caspase activation, and protein analysis. Overexpression of β1 integrins enhanced the cellular sensitivity to X-rays and Ara-C, which was counteracted by increasing concentrations of matrix proteins in association with reduced caspase-3 and -8 activation and MTP breakdown. Usage of stimulatory or inhibitory anti β1 integrin antibodies, pharmacological caspase or phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitors, coprecipitation experiments and siRNA-mediated β1 integrin silencing provided further data showing an interaction between FN-ligated β1 integrin and PI3K/Akt for inhibiting procaspase-8 cleavage.
The presented data suggest that the ligand status of β1 integrins is critical for their antiapoptotic effect in leukemia cells treated with Ara-C, FasL or ionizing radiation. The antiapoptotic actions involve formation of a β1 integrin/Akt complex, which signals to prevent procaspase-8-mediated induction of apoptosis in a PI3K-dependent manner. Antagonizing agents targeting β1 integrin and PI3K/Akt signaling in conjunction with conventional therapies might effectively reduce radiation- and drug-resistant tumor populations and treatment failure in hematological malignancies.