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Thioredoxin Inhibitor PX-12 Induces Mitochondria-mediated Apoptosis In Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells

Vanessa Ehrenfeld, Simone Fulda

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AbstractImbalances in redox homeostasis have been described to be involved in the development, progression and relapse of leukemia. As the thioredoxin (Trx) system, one of the major cellular antioxidant networks, has been implicated in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we investigated the therapeutic potential of Trx inhibition in ALL. Here, we show that the Trx inhibitor PX-12 reduced cell viability and induced cell death in a dose- and time-dependent manner in different ALL cell lines. This antileukemic activity was accompanied by an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and enhanced PRDX3 dimerization. Pre-treatment with the thiol-containing ROS scavenger N-acetylcysteine (NAC), but not with non-thiol-containing scavengers α-tocopherol (α-Toc) or Mn(III)tetrakis(4-benzoic acid) porphyrin chloride (MnTBAP), significantly rescued PX-12-induced cell death. Furthermore, PX-12 triggered activation of BAK. Importantly, knockdown of BAK reduced PX-12-stimulated ROS production and cell death. Similarly, silencing of NOXA provided significant protection from PX-12-mediated cell death. The relevance of mitochondria-mediated, caspase-dependent apoptosis was further supported by data showing that PX-12 triggered cleavage of caspase-3 and that addition of the broad-range caspase inhibitor carbobenzoxy-valyl-alanyl-aspartyl-[O-methyl]-fluoromethylketone (zVAD.fmk) potently blocked cell death upon PX-12 treatment. This study provides novel insights into the mechanisms of PX-12-induced cell death in ALL and further highlights the therapeutic potential of redox-active compounds in ALL.