• c-FLIP and CD95 signaling are essential for survival of renal cell carcinoma.

      Luebke, Tobias; Schwarz, Lisa; Beer, Yan Yan; Schumann, Sabrina; Misterek, Maria; Sander, Frida Ewald; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Schmitz, Ingo; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-05-16)
      Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most-prominent tumor type of kidney cancers. Resistance of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) against tumor therapy is often owing to apoptosis resistance, e.g., by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins. However, little is known about the role of the apoptosis inhibitor c-FLIP and its potential impact on death receptor-induced apoptosis in ccRCC cells. In this study, we demonstrate that c-FLIP is crucial for resistance against CD95L-induced apoptosis in four ccRCC cell lines. Strikingly, downregulation of c-FLIP expression by short hairpin RNA (shRNA)interference led to spontaneous caspase activation and apoptotic cell death. Of note, knockdown of all c-FLIP splice variants was required to induce apoptosis. Stimulation of ccRCC cells with CD95L induced NF-κB and MAP kinase survival pathways as revealed by phosphorylation of RelA/p65 and Erk1/2. Interestingly, CD95L surface expression was high in all cell lines analyzed, and CD95 but not TNF-R1 clustered at cell contact sites. Downstream of CD95, inhibition of the NF-κB pathway led to spontaneous cell death. Surprisingly, knockdown experiments revealed that c-FLIP inhibits NF-κB activation in the context of CD95 signaling. Thus, c-FLIP inhibits apoptosis and dampens NF-κB downstream of CD95 but allows NF-κB activation to a level sufficient for ccRCC cell survival. In summary, we demonstrate a complex CD95-FLIP-NF-κB-signaling circuit, in which CD95-CD95L interactions mediate a paracrine survival signal in ccRCC cells with c-FLIP and NF-κB both being required for inhibiting cell death and ensuring survival. Our findings might lead to novel therapeutic approaches of RCC by circumventing apoptosis resistance.