Background: Inflammation promotes the growth and survival of malignant cells. Inflammation within the tumor microenvironment is a result of damage-associated molecular patterns released by dead or dying cells that provide survival signals to the surrounding cells. It has been proposed that extracellular DNA can act as a damage-associated molecular pattern given the association between circulating DNA and autoimmune diseases. Herein, we demonstrate a novel role for genomic extracellular DNA binding to the Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9 on tumor cells in response to cytotoxic insult. Materials and methods: The colorectal tumor cell line HCCT116 was used to study the role of DNA in tumor cell response to chemotherapy. Cell viability was assessed using CCK-8 assay. Cell death mechanisms were assessed by YOYO-1 and lactate dehydrogenase staining for necrosis and TUNEL staining for apoptosis. Autophagy was measured by LC3 punctate formation. TLR9-short hairpin RNA was used to knockdown TLR-9 and determine its role in tumor cell response to DNA. Results: DNA is released from necrotic tumor cells after chemotherapy. Survival after cytotoxic insult is enhanced by the presence of extracellular DNA as a result of inhibition of apoptosis and enhanced autophagy. Knockdown of TLR-9 enhanced apoptosis, diminished autophagy, and decreased survival after cytotoxic insult in the presence or absence of extracellular DNA. Conclusions: DNA in the tumor microenvironment promotes survival through induction of autophagy via TLR-9 signaling. This work has important implications for targeting extracellular DNA, TLR-9, and autophagy during treatment with chemotherapy and enhances our understanding of the role of extracellular DNA in the tumor microenvironment.
- Damage-associated molecular patterns receptors
- Extracellular DNA
ASJC Scopus subject areas