Interferon β (IFN-β) is considered a signaling molecule with important therapeutic potential in cancer since IFN-β-induced gene transcription mediates antiproliferation and cell death induction. Whereas, TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand/Apo2 ligand (TRAIL/Apo2L) has emerged as a promising anticancer agent because it induces apoptosis specifically in cancer cells. In this study, we elucidated that IFN-β augments TRAIL-induced apoptosis synergistically using five human malignant melanoma cells. All of these cells were induced apoptosis by TRAIL. Whereas, the response against IFN-β was different in amelanotic cells (A375 and CRL1579) and melanotic cells (G361, SK-MEL-28, and MeWo). The responsibility of amelanotic cells against IFN-β was higher than those of melanotic cells. The synergism of IFN-β and TRAIL were correlated with the responsibilities of the cells against IFN-β. The synergistic interaction was confirmed by a combination index based on the Chou-Talalay method. The upregulation of apoptosis in amelanotic cells was caused by very low doses of IFN-β (over 0.1 IU/ml). Both of p53-mediated intrinsic pathway and Fas-related extrinsic pathway were activated by IFN-β alone and combination with TRAIL. Further, TRAIL death receptors (DR4 and DR5) were upregulated by a low-dose IFN-β (over 0.1 IU/ml) and the expression was more promoted by the combination with TRAIL. It was clarified that the upregulation of DR5 is associated with the declination of viability.
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