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Oncogene. 2002 Aug 29;21(38):5844-51.

DNA damage, death receptor activation and reactive oxygen species contribute to ultraviolet radiation-induced apoptosis in an essential and independent way.

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  • 1Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cell Biology and Immunobiology of the Skin, Department of Dermatology, University Münster, Germany.


Nuclear DNA damage and death receptor (CD95) activation by ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) play a major role in UVB-induced apoptosis. Removal of DNA damage combined with inhibition of death receptor activation resulted in pronounced but not complete suppression of apoptosis, indicating that a third independent pathway is involved. Since reactive oxygen species (ROS) cause apoptosis and are induced by UVB, the radical scavenger pyrrolidene-dithiocarbamate (PDTC) was used. PDTC prevented UVB-induced apoptosis partially, H(2)O(2)-induced cell death largely, but not CD95-mediated apoptosis. The same was observed for cytochrome c release from mitochondria, another important event during apoptosis. The proapoptotic protein Bid was cleaved upon exposure to UVB or to agonistic anti-CD95-antibodies, but not to H(2)O(2), indicating that H(2)O(2) uses a different pathway. The fact that PDTC neither inhibited CD95-mediated apoptosis nor affected UV-induced DNA damage indicated that ROS generated during UVB irradiation may directly trigger mitochondrial cytochrome c release, thereby contributing to apoptosis. Accordingly, complete inhibition of apoptosis was observed when in addition to DNA damage removal via photoreactivation and blockade of CD95 signaling by caspase-8 inhibitor zIETD, PDTC was added before UVB exposure. This indicates that DNA damage, death receptor activation and ROS formation contribute to UVB-induced apoptosis in an essential and independent way.

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