18F-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake during FDG positron emission tomography seems to reflect increased radioresistance. However, the exact molecular mechanism underlying high glucose (HG)-induced radioresistance is unclear. In the current study, we showed that ionizing radiation-induced activation of the MEK-ERK-DAPK-p53 signaling axis is required for anoikis (anchorage-dependent apoptosis) of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells in normal glucose media. Phosphorylation of DAPK at Ser734 by ERK was essential for p53 transcriptional activity and radiosensitization. In HG media, overexpressed DANGER directly bound to the death domain of DAPK, thus inhibiting the catalytic activity of DAPK. In addition, inhibition of the DAPK-p53 signaling axis by DANGER promoted anoikis-resistance and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), resulting in radioresistance of HG-treated NSCLC cells. Notably, knockdown of DANGER enhanced anoikis, EMT inhibition, and radiosensitization in a mouse xenograft model of lung cancer. Taken together, our findings offered evidence that overexpression of DANGER and the subsequent inhibitory effect on DAPK kinase activity are critical responses that account for HG-induced radioresistance of NSCLC.
Keywords: DANGER; DAPK; anoikis; high glucose; radioresistance.