Executioner caspases and CAD are essential for mutagenesis induced by TRAIL or vincristine Academic Article uri icon


  • Chemotherapy drugs interfere with cellular processes to generate genotoxic lesions that activate cell death pathways. Sustained DNA damage induced by these drugs can provoke mutations in surviving non-cancerous cells, potentially increasing the risk of therapy-related cancers. Ligation of death receptors by ligands such as TRAIL, and subsequent activation of extrinsic apoptotic pathways, also provokes mutations. In this study, we show that executioner caspase activation of the apoptotic nuclease CAD/DFF40 is essential for TRAIL-induced mutations in surviving cells. As exposure to chemotherapy drugs also activates apoptotic caspases and presumably CAD, we hypothesized that these pathways may also contribute to the mutagenesis induced by conventional chemotherapy drugs, perhaps augmenting the mutations that arise from direct DNA damage provoked by these agents. Interestingly, vincristine-mediated mutations were caspase and CAD dependent. Executioner caspases accounted for some of the mutations caused by the topoisomerase poisons doxorubicin and SN38, but were dispensable for mutagenesis following treatment with cisplatin or temozolomide. These data highlight a non-apoptotic role of caspases in mutagenesis mediated by death receptor agonists, microtubule poisons and topoisomerase inhibitors, and provide further evidence for a potential carcinogenic consequence of sublethal apoptotic signaling stimulated by anticancer therapies.

publication date

  • 2017

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