CIB1 depletion with docetaxel or TRAIL enhances triple-negative breast cancer cell death

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Background: Patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) have limited treatment options and often suffer from resistance and toxicity due to chemotherapy. We previously found that depleting calcium and integrin-binding protein 1 (CIB1) induces cell death selectively in TNBC cells, while sparing normal cells. Therefore, we asked whether CIB1 depletion further enhances tumor-specific killing when combined with either the commonly used chemotherapeutic, docetaxel, or the cell death-inducing ligand, TRAIL. Methods: We targeted CIB1 by RNA interference in MDA-MB-436, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, docetaxel-resistant MDA-MB-436 TNBC cells and ME16C normal breast epithelial cells alone or combination with docetaxel or TRAIL. Cell death was quantified via trypan blue exclusion using flow cytometry and cell death mechanisms were analyzed by Western blotting. Cell surface levels of TRAIL receptors were measured by flow cytometry analysis. Results: CIB1 depletion combined with docetaxel significantly enhanced tumor-specific cell death relative to each treatment alone. The enhanced cell death strongly correlated with caspase-8 activation, a hallmark of death receptor-mediated apoptosis. The death receptor TRAIL-R2 was upregulated in response to CIB1 depletion, which sensitized TNBC cells to the ligand TRAIL, resulting in a synergistic increase in cell death. In addition to death receptor-mediated apoptosis, both combination treatments activated a non-apoptotic mechanism, called paraptosis. Interestingly, these combination treatments also induced nearly complete death of docetaxel-resistant MDA-MB-436 cells, again via apoptosis and paraptosis. In contrast, neither combination treatment induced cell death in normal ME16C cells. Conclusion: Novel combinations of CIB1 depletion with docetaxel or TRAIL selectively enhance naive and docetaxel-resistant TNBC cell death while sparing normal cell. Therefore, combination therapies that target CIB1 could prove to be a safe and durable strategy for treatment of TNBC and potentially other cancers.




Chung, A. H., Leisner, T. M., Dardis, G. J., Bivins, M. M., Keller, A. L., & Parise, L. V. (2019). CIB1 depletion with docetaxel or TRAIL enhances triple-negative breast cancer cell death. Cancer Cell International, 19(1).

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