Cell Death Dis. 2019 Sep; 10(9): 642.
RNase L is an essential component in interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral signaling that showed antitumor effects in cancer. Cancer immunotherapy based on interferon has achieved encouraging results that indicate an applicable potential for cancer therapy. Here we showed that function of RNase L, though highly upregulated, was functionally impaired both in nuclear and cytoplasm in lung cancer cells. In normal lung epithelial cells, RNase L activation induced by 2–5A promoted nuclear condensation, DNA cleavage, and cell apoptosis, while in lung cancer cells, these processes were inhibited and RNase L-mediated downregulation of fibrillarin, Topo I and hnRNP A1 was also impaired in lung cancer cells. Moreover, the impairment of RNase L in lung cancer cells was due to the elevated expression of RLI. Application of IFN-γ to lung cancer cells led to enhanced expression of RNase L that compensated the RLI inhibition and restored the cytoplasmic and nuclear function of RNase L, leading to apoptosis of lung cancer cells. Thus, the present study discovered the impaired function and mechanism of RNase L in lung cancer cells and proved the efficacy of IFN-γ in restoring RNase L function and inducing apoptosis in the lung cancer cell. These results indicated the RNase L as a therapeutic target in lung cancer cells and immunotherapy of IFN-γ may serve as an adjuvant to enhance the efficacy.