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TIFA, an inflammatory signaling adaptor, is tumor suppressive for liver cancer.

  • Author(s): Shen, W;
  • Chang, A;
  • Wang, J;
  • Zhou, W;
  • Gao, R;
  • Li, J;
  • Xu, Y;
  • Luo, X;
  • Xiang, R;
  • Luo, N;
  • Stupack, DG
  • et al.

TIFA (TNF receptor associated factor (TRAF)-interacting protein with a Forkhead-associated (FHA) domain), also called T2BP, was first identified using a yeast two-hybrid screening. TIFA contains a FHA domain, which directly binds phosphothreonine and phosphoserine, and a consensus TRAF6-binding motif. TIFA-mediated oligomerization and poly-ubiquitinylation of TRAF6 mediates signaling downstream of the Tumor necrosis factor alpha receptor 1 (TNFaR-I) and interleukin-1/Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathways. Examining TIFA expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues microarrays, we noted marked decreases TIFA reactivity in tumor versus control samples. In agreement, we found that HCC cell lines show reduced TIFA expression levels versus normal liver controls. Reconstituting TIFA expression in HCC cell lines promoted two independent apoptosis signaling pathways: the induction of p53 and cell cycle arrest, and the activation of caspase-8 and caspase-3. In contrast, the expression of a non-oligomerizing mutant of TIFA impacted cells minimally, and suppression of TIFA expression protected cells from apoptosis. Mice bearing TIFA overexpression hepatocellular xenografts develop smaller tumors versus TIFA mutant tumors; terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling staining demonstrates increased cell apoptosis, and decreased proliferation, reflecting cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, p53 has a greater role in decreased proliferation than cell death, as it appeared dispensable for TIFA-induced cell killing. The findings demonstrate a novel suppressive role of TIFA in HCC progression via promotion of cell death independent of p53.

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