NCTD promotes Birinapant-mediated anticancer activity in breast cancer cells by downregulation of c-FLIP

Li Zhao, Guoshan Yang, Hao Bai, Minghui Zhang, Dongcheng Mou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (SMAC) mimetics is a class of new anticancer agents. However, most cancers exhibit de novo or acquired resistance to SMAC mimetics, posting a problem for broad applications in clinic, and highlighting the necessity of exploring combinational strategies to circumvent SMAC mimeticresistance. We here showed that Norcantharidin, a drug that is currently being used in cancer treatment, significantly enhanced SMAC mimetic Birinapant-mediated cell viability inhibition and robustly promoted apoptosis in established breast carcinoma cell lines, as well as in primary breast carcinoma cells. Mechanistically, we revealed that Norcantharidin effectively reduced the levels of two major protein isoforms of cellular FLICE-like inhibitor protein(c-FLIP), namely c-FLIP long (c-FLIPL) and c-FLIP short (c-FLIPS). Moreover, Norcantharidin markedly enhanced Birinapanttriggered caspase-8/caspase-3 cascade. Inhibition of caspase-8 activity by a synthetic peptide Z-IETD-FMK significantly attenuated cell death induction by the combination, suggesting that caspase-8 plays a critical role in the anticancer action. In conclusion, our study suggests that the combination of SMAC mimetics with Norcantharidin represents a novel strategy in breast cancer therapy and warrants further studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26886-26895
Number of pages10
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • C-FLIP
  • Norcantharidin
  • SMAC mimetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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