The endogenous lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor SERPINB3 (squamous cell carcinoma antigen 1, SCCA1) is elevated in patients with cervical cancer and other malignancies. High serum SERPINB3 is prognostic for recurrence and death following chemoradiation therapy. Cervical cancer cells genetically lacking SERPINB3 are more sensitive to ionizing radiation (IR), suggesting this protease inhibitor plays a role in therapeutic response. Here we demonstrate that SERPINB3-deficient cells have enhanced sensitivity to IR-induced cell death. Knock out of SERPINB3 sensitizes cells to a greater extent than cisplatin, the current standard of care. IR in SERPINB3 deficient cervical carcinoma cells induces predominantly necrotic cell death, with biochemical and cellular features of lysoptosis. Rescue with wild-type SERPINB3 or a reactive site loop mutant indicates that protease inhibitory activity is required to protect cervical tumor cells from radiation-induced death. Transcriptomics analysis of primary cervix tumor samples and genetic knock out demonstrates a role for the lysosomal protease cathepsin L in radiation-induced cell death in SERPINB3 knock-out cells. These data support targeting of SERPINB3 and lysoptosis to treat radioresistant cervical cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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