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Role of TLR4 for paclitaxel chemotherapy in human epithelial ovarian cancer cells


Pei-Shu Liu, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, 107 Wen-hua Xi Road, Jinan, Shandong Province, P.R. China, 250012. Tel.: +86-531-82169563; fax: +86-531-86927544; e-mail:


Background  Paclitaxel has been reported to be a ligand to Toll like receptor 4 (TLR4). Myeloid differentiation factor 88(MyD88) was described as a myeloid differentiation primary response gene. TLR4 signalling owns two pathways: MyD88-dependent and MyD88-independent pathways. XIAP is a key member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein family. Akt is a major downstream target of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases, which negatively regulates apoptotic pathways through phosphorylation (pAkt). The aim of the present study is to investigate the role of TLR4 in paclitaxel resistance of ovarian cancer cells.

Materials and methods  We reconstructed the RNA interference expression vector, pGenesil-1-U6 specifically targeting TLR4 mRNA, which was stable transfected into the human ovarian cancer cell line SKOV3 (MyD88-positive expression) and A2780 (MyD88-negative expression). Cell proliferation, cell cycle distribution and cell apoptosis were assessed in the cells transfected with scramble control shRNA (SKOV3/shControl, A2780/shControl) and TLR4 shRNA (SKOV3/shTLR4, A2780/shTLR4) to explore the possible functions of TLR4 in ovarian cancer cells growth. The expression of TLR4, MyD88, XIAP, Akt and pAkt was analysed by Western blot analysis.

Results  A knockdown of TLR4 levels down-regulated the expression of XIAP and pAkt. And it restored the inhibitory effect of paclitaxel on cell proliferation and impeding cell cycle progression in SKOV3 cells.

Conclusions  It suggests that TLR4 negatively regulates paclitaxel chemotherapy and MyD88 is an essential downstream factor to TLR4 signalling for this resistance. Knockdown of TLR4 induces paclitaxel chemosensitivity which might depress the Akt pathway. The TLR4-MyD88 signalling represents an important source to promote tumour growth.