Fibronectin-mediated activation of Akt2 protects human ovarian and breast cancer cells from docetaxel-induced apoptosis via inhibition of the p38 pathway

Apoptosis. 2008 Feb;13(2):213-23. doi: 10.1007/s10495-007-0158-5.


Although multiple mechanisms have been implicated in chemoresistance, recent evidence has suggested that the attachment of cells to extracellular matrix proteins such as fibronectin (FN) may mediate the signals that participate in cell survival and resistance to apoptosis. We established previously that human ovarian cancer cells and breast cancer cells adhering to FN acquire a survival advantage through activation of the PI3-kinase/Akt2 pathway. However, the mechanism by which Akt2 regulates chemoresistance in adherent cells is unknown. In the present study, we have investigated the role of the interaction between the Akt2/survivin survivial pathway and the ASK1/p38 apoptotic pathway in the phenomenon of resistance to docetaxel. We show here that the resistance of FN-adhered A2780 or MDA-MB-231 cells to docetaxel requires survivin, and we present evidence that attenuation of the antiapoptotic activity of survivin is p38-dependent. The activation of p38 kinase in response to docetaxel, on the other hand, is abolished by FN adhesion. We further demonstrate that FN adhesion-mediated inhibition of p38 activation was governed by Akt2 via the promotion of direct protein association of ASK1 with p38. Our results indicate for the first time that p38 plays a critical role in FN adhesion-mediated resistance to docetaxel. The present findings may help us to understand the formation of FN adhesion-mediated chemoresistance and facilitate development of novel antineoplastic strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Docetaxel
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / metabolism*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5 / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Survivin
  • Taxoids / pharmacology*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Fibronectins
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Survivin
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 5