Cell-to-cell heterogeneities during extrinsic apoptosis arise from cell cycle progression and transmitotic apoptosis resistance
Nadine Pollak, Aline Lindner, Dirke Imig, Karsten Kuritz, Jacques S Fritze, Isabel Heinrich, Jannis Stadager, Stephan A Eisler, Daniela Stöhr, Frank Allgöwer, Peter Scheurich, Markus Morrison (Rehm)
Extrinsic apoptosis relies on TNF-family receptor activation by immune cells or receptor-activating biologics. Here, we monitored cell cycle progression at minutes resolution to relate apoptosis kinetics and cell-to-cell heterogeneities in death decisions to cell cycle phases. Interestingly, we found that cells in S phase delay TRAIL receptor-induced death in favour for mitosis, thereby passing on an apoptosis-primed state to their offspring. This translates into two distinct fates, apoptosis execution post mitosis or cell survival from inefficient apoptosis. Transmitotic resistance is linked to Mcl-1 upregulation from mid S phase onwards, which allows cells to pass through mitosis with activated caspase-8, and with cells escaping apoptosis after mitosis sustaining sublethal DNA damage. Antagonizing Mcl-1 by BH3-mimetics suppresses cell cycle-dependent delays in apoptosis, prevents apoptosis-resistant progression through mitosis and averts unwanted survival from apoptosis induction. Cell cycle progression therefore modulates signal transduction during extrinsic apoptosis, with Mcl-1 governing decision making between death, proliferation and survival from inefficient apoptosis induction. Cell cycle progression thus is a crucial process from which cell-to-cell heterogeneities in fates and treatment outcomes emerge in isogenic cell populations during extrinsic apoptosis signalling.