We investigated the ability of thymidine phosphorylase (TP) to confer cancer cells resistance to MIA (microtubule-interfering agents)-induced apoptosis. Jurkat cells were stably transfected with TP cDNA (Jurkat/TP) and the sensitivity to MIAs were examined. Jurkat/TP cells were more resistant to apoptosis induced by nocodazole, vincristine, vinblastine, paclitaxel and 2-methoxyestradiol than mock-trasfected Jurkat/CV cells. TP enzymatic activity was not required for this effect of TP. Jurkat/TP cells showed weak phosphorylation of Bcl-2, and kinase inhibitors staurosporine and genistein attenuated not only MIA-induced Bcl-2 phosphorylation but also cytotoxicity of MIA in Jurkat/CV, but not in Jurkat/TP. MIAs diminished expression of FasL in Jurkat/TP but not in Jurkat/CV, and neutralization of FasL by anti-FasL antibody considerably attenuated the cytotoxic effect of the MIAs in Jurkat/CV, but the effect of the antibody was marginal in Jurkat/TP cells. Our study provides further evidence that TP functions in conferring resistance on cancer cells to the stress induced by MIAs. In addition, we show that TP-induced inhibition of Bcl-2 phosphorylation and suppression of FasL may contribute to the protective function of TP in cancer cells.
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