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J Biol Chem. 1999 Oct 1;274(40):28476-83.

The endoplasmic reticulum chaperone glycoprotein GRP94 with Ca(2+)-binding and antiapoptotic properties is a novel proteolytic target of calpain during etoposide-induced apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


GRP94 is a 94-kDa chaperone glycoprotein with Ca(2+)-binding properties. We report here that during apoptosis induced by the topoisomerase II inhibitor etoposide, a fraction of GRP94 associated with the endoplasmic reticulum membrane undergoes specific proteolytic cleavage, coinciding with the activation of the caspase CPP32 and initiation of DNA fragmentation. In vivo, inhibitors of caspases able to block etoposide-induced apoptosis can only partially protect GRP94 from proteolytic cleavage, whereas complete inhibition is observed with calpain inhibitor I but not with the proteasome inhibitor. In vitro, GRP94 is not a substrate for CPP32; rather, it can be completely cleaved by calpain, a Ca(2+)-regulated protease. The cleavage of GRP94 by calpain is Ca(2+)-dependent and generates a discrete polypeptide of 80 kDa. In contrast, calpain has no effect on other stress proteins such as GRP78 or HSP70. Further, immunohistochemical staining reveals specific co-localization of GRP94 with calpain in the perinuclear region following etoposide treatment. We further showed that reduction of GRP94 by antisense decreased cell viability in etoposide-treated Jurkat cells. Our studies provide new evidence that the cytoprotective GRP94, as in the case of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2, can be targets of proteolytic cleavage themselves during the apoptotic process.

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