Our previous study has shown that genistein enhances apoptosis in A549 lung cancer cells induced by trichostatin A (TSA). The precise molecular mechanism underlying the effect of genistein, however, remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated whether genistein enhances the anti-cancer effect of TSA through up-regulation of TNF receptor-1 (TNFR-1) death receptor signaling. We incubated A549 cells with TSA (50. ng/mL) alone or in combination with genistein and then determined the mRNA and protein expression of TNFR-1 as well as the activation of downstream caspases. Genistein at 5 and 10μM significantly enhanced the TSA-induced decrease in cell number and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. The combined treatment significantly increased mRNA and protein expression of TNFR-1 at 6 and 12. h, respectively, compared with that of the control group; while TSA alone had no effect. TSA in combination with 10μM of genistein increased TNFR-1 mRNA and protein expression by about 70% and 40%, respectively. The underlying mechanism for this effect of genistein may be partly associated with the estrogen receptor pathway. The combined treatment also increased the activation of caspase-3 and -10 as well as p53 protein expression in A549 cells. The enhancing effects of genistein on the TSA-induced decrease in cell number and on the expression of caspase-3 in A549 cells were suppressed by silencing TNFR-1 expression. These data demonstrated that the upregulation of TNFR-1 death receptor signaling plays an important role, at least in part, in the enhancing effect of genistein on TSA-induced apoptosis in A549 cells.
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