NF-κB functions as a molecular link between tumor cells and Th1/Tc1 T cells in the tumor microenvironment to exert radiation-mediated tumor suppression

Priscilla S. Simon, Kankana Bardhan, May R. Chen, Amy V. Paschall, Chunwan Lu, Roni J. Bollag, Feng Chong Kong, Jian Yue Jin, Feng Ming Kong, Jennifer L. Waller, Raphael E. Pollock, Kebin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Radiation modulates both tumor cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment to exert its anti-tumor activity; however, the molecular connection between tumor cells and immune cells that mediates radiation-exerted tumor suppression activity in the tumor microenvironment is largely unknown. We report here that radiation induces rapid activation of the p65/p50 and p50/p50 NF-κB complexes in human soft tissue sarcoma (STS) cells. Radiation-activated p65/p50 and p50/p50 bind to the TNFα promoter to activate its transcription in STS cells. Radiation-induced TNFα induces tumor cell death in an autocrine manner. A sublethal dose of Smac mimetic BV6 induces cIAP1 and cIAP2 degradation to increase tumor cell sensitivity to radiation-induced cell death in vitro and to enhance radiationmediated suppression of STS xenografts in vivo. Inhibition of caspases, RIP1, or RIP3 blocks radiation/TNFα-induced cell death, whereas inhibition of RIP1 blocks TNFα-induced caspase activation, suggesting that caspases and RIP1 act sequentially to mediate the non-compensatory cell death pathways. Furthermore, we determined in a syngeneic sarcoma mouse model that radiation up-regulates IRF3, IFNβ, and the T cell chemokines CCL2 and CCL5 in the tumor microenvironment, which are associated with activation and increased infiltration of Th1/Tc1 T cells in the tumor microenvironment. Moreover, tumor-infiltrating T cells are in their active form since both the perforin and FasL pathways are activated in irradiated tumor tissues. Consequently, combined BV6 and radiation completely suppressed tumor growth in vivo. Therefore, radiationinduced NF-κB functions as a molecular link between tumor cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment for radiation-mediated tumor suppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23395-23415
Number of pages21
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 26 2016



  • Cytotoxic T lymphocyte
  • NF-κB
  • Radiation
  • Smac mimetic
  • TNFα

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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