All-trans-retinoic acid upregulates TNF receptors and potentiates TNF-induced activation of nuclear factors-kappaB, activated protein-1 and apoptosis in human lung cancer cells

Oncogene. 2000 Apr 20;19(17):2110-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1203547.


Retinoids modulate the growth and differentiation effects of TNF but the mechanism is not understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) on the cell surface expression of TNF receptors and receptor-mediated signaling in various human lung cancer cell lines. ATRA treatment of cells that express wild-type p53 (A549 and H460), or null p53 (H1299), or mutant p53 (H596) increased the number of TNF receptors, as determined by the specific binding of 125I-labeled TNF to these cells, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Treatment with 2 microm ATRA for 24 h at 37 degrees C produced the maximal increase. Scatchard analysis indicated that the increase induced by ATRA was due to an increase in receptor number and not to an increase in affinity. The upmodulation of TNF receptors was also confirmed by covalent receptor-ligand cross-linking studies. The increase in TNF receptors sensitized H596 cells to TNF-induced activation of NF-kappaB, AP-1 and apoptosis. A549 cells, however, were completely resistant to TNF-induced activation of NF-kappaB, AP-1 and apoptosis. Treatment of these cells with as little as 0.5 microM ATRA was effective in converting TNF-resistant cells to TNF-sensitive. Overall our results indicate that ATRA induces the TNF receptors in human lung cancer cells, which sensitizes them to TNF-induced signaling leading to activation of NF-kappaB, AP-1 and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / drug effects
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism*
  • Tretinoin / metabolism*
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Up-Regulation


  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Tretinoin