Kinetic Monte Carlo Study of the Type 1/Type 2 Choice in Apoptosis Elucidates Selective Killing of Cancer Cells under Death Ligand Induction


Death ligand mediated apoptotic activation is a mode of cell death that is widely used in cellular and physiological situations. Interest in studying death ligand induced apoptosis has increased due to the promising role of recombinant soluble forms of death ligands (mainly recombinant TRAIL) in anti-cancer therapy. A clear elucidation of how death ligands activate the type 1 and type 2 apoptotic pathways in healthy and cancer cells may help develop better chemotherapeutic strategies. In this work, we use kinetic Monte Carlo simulations to address the problem of type 1/ type 2 choice in death ligand mediated apoptosis of cancer cells. Our study provides insights into the activation of membrane proximal death module that results from complex interplay between death and decoy receptors. Relative abundance of death and decoy receptors was shown to be a key parameter for activation of the initiator caspases in the membrane module. Increased concentration of death ligands frequently increased the type 1 activation fraction in cancer cells, and, in certain cases changed the signaling phenotype from type 2 to type 1. Results of this study also indicate that inherent differences between cancer and healthy cells, such as in the membrane module, may allow robust activation of cancer cell apoptosis by death ligand induction. At the same time, large cell-to-cell variability through the type 2 pathway was shown to provide protection for healthy cells. Such elucidation of selective activation of apoptosis in cancer cells addresses a key question in cancer biology and cancer therapy.

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Raychaudhuri, S. (2015) Kinetic Monte Carlo Study of the Type 1/Type 2 Choice in Apoptosis Elucidates Selective Killing of Cancer Cells under Death Ligand Induction. Open Journal of Apoptosis, 4, 22-39. doi: 10.4236/ojapo.2015.41003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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