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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 31;275(13):9303-7.

Caspase-8 activation and bid cleavage contribute to MCF7 cellular execution in a caspase-3-dependent manner during staurosporine-mediated apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Tumor Cell Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101, USA.


There are at least two distinct classes of caspases, initiators (e.g. caspases-8, -9, and -10) and effectors (e.g. caspase-3). Furthermore, it is believed that there are two distinct primary apoptotic signaling pathways, one of which is mediated by death receptors controlled by caspases-8/10, and the other by the release of cytochrome c and activation of a caspase-9/Apaf1/cytochrome c apoptosome. However, several recent reports have demonstrated that caspase-8, and its substrate Bid, are frequently activated in response to certain apoptotic stimuli in a death receptor-independent manner. These results suggest that significant cross-talk may exist between these two distinct signaling arms, allowing each to take advantage of elements unique to the other. Here we provide evidence that activation of caspase-8, and subsequent Bid cleavage, does indeed participate in cytochrome c-mediated apoptosis, at least in certain circumstances and cell types. Furthermore, the participation of activated caspase-3 is essential for activation of caspase-8 and Bid processing to occur. Although caspase-8 activation is not required for the execution of a cytochrome c-mediated death signal, we found that it greatly shortens the execution time. Thus, caspase-8 involvement in cytochrome c-mediated cell death may help to amplify weaker death signals and ensure that apoptosis occurs within a certain time frame.

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