Essential role of TAK1 in regulating mantle cell lymphoma survival.
ABSTRACT TGF-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1), a member of the MAPK kinase family, plays a key role in B-cell growth and development. In the present study, we examined the potential role of TAK1 as a therapeutic target for lymphoma. Here, we show that the active phosphorylated form of TAK1 is abundantly expressed in a panel of lymphoma cell lines, including mantle cell, anaplastic large cell, and Hodgkin lymphoma cell lines. Silencing TAK1 expression via the use of siRNA inhibited the activation of NF-κB and p38 and induced apoptosis in lymphoma cell lines. Moreover, submicromolar concentrations of AZ-TAK1, a novel ATP-competitive small molecule inhibitor of TAK1, dephosphorylated TAK1, p38, and IκB-α in lymphoma cell lines. These molecular events were associated with the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, down-regulation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, activation of caspase 9, and induction of apoptosis. We also demonstrate that primary lymphoma cells express TAK1 and pTAK1 and were sensitive to AZ-TAK1-mediated cell death. Collectively, our data demonstrate an essential role for TAK1 in regulating critical survival mechanisms in lymphoma and suggest that it may serve as a therapeutic target.