• The role of c-FLIP splice variants in urothelial tumours.

      Ewald, F; Ueffing, N; Brockmann, L; Hader, C; Telieps, T; Schuster, M; Schulz, W A; Schmitz, I; Institute of Molecular and Clinical Immunology, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg and Department of Immune Control, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011)
      Deregulation of apoptosis is common in cancer and is often caused by overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins in tumour cells. One important regulator of apoptosis is the cellular FLICE-inhibitory protein (c-FLIP), which is overexpressed, for example, in melanoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma cells. Here, we addressed the question whether deregulated c-FLIP expression in urothelial carcinoma impinges on the ability of death ligands to induce apoptosis. In particular, we investigated the role of the c-FLIP splice variants c-FLIP(long) (c-FLIP(L)) and c-FLIP(short) (c-FLIP(S)), which can have opposing functions. We observed diminished expression of the c-FLIP(L) isoform in urothelial carcinoma tissues as well as in established carcinoma cell lines compared with normal urothelial tissues and cells, whereas c-FLIP(S) was unchanged. Overexpression and RNA interference studies in urothelial cell lines nevertheless demonstrated that c-FLIP remained a crucial factor conferring resistance towards induction of apoptosis by death ligands CD95L and TRAIL. Isoform-specific RNA interference showed c-FLIP(L) to be of particular importance. Thus, urothelial carcinoma cells appear to fine-tune c-FLIP expression to a level sufficient for protection against activation of apoptosis by the extrinsic pathway. Therefore, targeting c-FLIP, and especially the c-FLIP(L) isoform, may facilitate apoptosis-based therapies of bladder cancer in otherwise resistant tumours.