CLL cells are resistant to smac mimetics because of an inability to form a ripoptosome complex. Academic Article uri icon


  • In the lymph node (LN) environment, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells display increased NF-κB activity compared with peripheral blood CLL cells, which contributes to chemoresistance. Antagonists of cellular inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (cIAPs) can induce apoptosis in various cancer cells in a tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα)-dependent manner and are in preclinical development. Smac-mimetics promote degradation of cIAP1 and cIAP2, which results in TNFR-mediated apoptosis via formation of a ripoptosome complex, comprising RIPK1, Fas-associated protein with death domain, FLICE-like inhibitory protein and caspase-8. CD40 stimulation of CLL cells in vitro is used as a model to mimic the LN microenvironment and results in NF-κB activation and TNFα production. In this study, we investigated the response of CLL cells to smac-mimetics in the context of CD40 stimulation. We found that treatment with smac-mimetics results in cIAP1 and cIAP2 degradation, yet although TNFα is produced, this did not induce apoptosis. Despite the presence of all components, the ripoptosome complex did not form upon smac-mimetic treatment in CLL cells. Thus, CLL cells seem to possess aberrant upstream NF-κB regulation that prevents ripoptosome formation upon IAP degradation. Unraveling the exact molecular mechanisms of disturbed ripoptosome formation may offer novel targets for treatment in CLL.


  • Maas, C
  • Tromp, JM
  • van Laar, J
  • Thijssen, R
  • Elias, JA
  • Malara, A
  • Krippner-Heidenreich, A
  • Silke, J
  • van Oers, MH
  • Eldering, E

publication date

  • 2013

has subject area