• 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.
    • UL36 Rescues Apoptosis Inhibition and In vivo Replication of a Chimeric MCMV Lacking the M36 Gene.

      Chaudhry, M Zeeshan; Kasmapour, Bahram; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Bajagic, Milica; Casalegno Garduño, Rosaely; Borkner, Lisa; Lenac Roviš, Tihana; Scrima, Andrea; Jonjic, Stipan; Schmitz, Ingo; et al. (2017)
      Apoptosis is an important defense mechanism mounted by the immune system to control virus replication. Hence, cytomegaloviruses (CMV) evolved and acquired numerous anti-apoptotic genes. The product of the human CMV (HCMV) UL36 gene, pUL36 (also known as vICA), binds to pro-caspase-8, thus inhibiting death-receptor apoptosis and enabling viral replication in differentiated THP-1 cells. In vivo studies of the function of HCMV genes are severely limited due to the strict host specificity of cytomegaloviruses, but CMV orthologues that co-evolved with other species allow the experimental study of CMV biology in vivo. The mouse CMV (MCMV) homolog of the UL36 gene is called M36, and its protein product (pM36) is a functional homolog of vICA that binds to murine caspase-8 and inhibits its activation. M36-deficient MCMV is severely growth impaired in macrophages and in vivo. Here we show that pUL36 binds to the murine pro-caspase-8, and that UL36 expression inhibits death-receptor apoptosis in murine cells and can replace M36 to allow MCMV growth in vitro and in vivo. We generated a chimeric MCMV expressing the UL36 ORF sequence instead of the M36 one. The newly generated MCMV(UL36) inhibited apoptosis in macrophage lines RAW 264.7, J774A.1, and IC-21 and its growth was rescued to wild type levels. Similarly, growth was rescued in vivo in the liver and spleen, but only partially in the salivary glands of BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. In conclusion, we determined that an immune-evasive HCMV gene is conserved enough to functionally replace its MCMV counterpart and thus allow its study in an in vivo setting. As UL36 and M36 proteins engage the same molecular host target, our newly developed model can facilitate studies of anti-viral compounds targeting pUL36 in vivo.