Identification of non-canonical NF-κB signaling as a critical mediator of Smac mimetic-stimulated migration and invasion of glioblastoma cells

Cell Death Dis. 2013 Mar 28;4(3):e564. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.70.


As inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins can regulate additional signaling pathways beyond apoptosis, we investigated the effect of the second mitochondrial activator of caspases (Smac) mimetic BV6, which antagonizes IAP proteins, on non-apoptotic functions in glioblastoma (GBM). Here, we identify non-canonical nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling and a tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα)/TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) autocrine/paracrine loop as critical mediators of BV6-stimulated migration and invasion of GBM cells. In addition to GBM cell lines, BV6 triggers cell elongation, migration and invasion in primary, patient-derived GBM cells at non-toxic concentrations, which do not affect cell viability or proliferation, and also increases infiltrative tumor growth in vivo underscoring the relevance of these findings. Molecular studies reveal that BV6 causes rapid degradation of cellular IAP proteins, accumulation of NIK, processing of p100 to p52, translocation of p52 into the nucleus, increased NF-κB DNA binding and enhanced NF-κB transcriptional activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay supershift shows that the NF-κB DNA-binding subunits consist of p50, p52 and RelB further confirming the activation of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway. BV6-stimulated NF-κB activation leads to elevated mRNA levels of TNFα and additional NF-κB target genes involved in migration (i.e., interleukin 8, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, CXC chemokine receptor 4) and invasion (i.e., matrix metalloproteinase-9). Importantly, inhibition of NF-κB by overexpression of dominant-negative IκBα superrepressor prevents the BV6-stimulated cell elongation, migration and invasion. Similarly, specific inhibition of non-canonical NF-κB signaling by RNA interference-mediated silencing of NIK suppresses the BV6-induced cell elongation, migration and invasion as well as upregulation of NF-κB target genes. Intriguingly, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of the BV6-stimulated TNFα autocrine/paracrine loop by the TNFα-blocking antibody Enbrel or by knockdown of TNFR1 abrogates BV6-induced cell elongation, migration and invasion. By demonstrating that the Smac mimetic BV6 at non-toxic concentrations promotes migration and invasion of GBM cells via non-canonical NF-κB signaling, our findings have important implications for the use of Smac mimetics as cancer therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Etanercept
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / pharmacology
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / genetics
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / metabolism
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / chemistry*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / chemistry*
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • NF-kappa B / genetics*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / prevention & control
  • Peptidomimetics / pharmacology*
  • Protein Subunits / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Subunits / genetics*
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / genetics
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • DIABLO protein, human
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Peptidomimetics
  • Protein Subunits
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Etanercept