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J Cell Sci. 2010 Mar 15;123(Pt 6):861-70. doi: 10.1242/jcs.060475. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

GSK-3beta promotes cell survival by modulating Bif-1-dependent autophagy and cell death.

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  • 1Department of Urology, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.


Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK-3beta) is constantly active in cells and its activity increases after serum deprivation, indicating that GSK-3beta might play a major role in cell survival under serum starvation. In this study, we attempted to determine how GSK-3beta promotes cell survival after serum depletion. Under full culture conditions (10% FBS), GSK-3beta inhibition with chemical inhibitors or siRNAs failed to induce cell death in human prostate cancer cells. By contrast, under conditions of serum starvation, a profound necrotic cell death was observed as evidenced by cellular morphologic features and biochemical markers. Further analysis revealed that GSK-3beta-inhibition-induced cell death was in parallel with an extensive autophagic response. Interestingly, blocking the autophagic response switched GSK-3beta-inhibition-induced necrosis to apoptotic cell death. Finally, GSK-3beta inhibition resulted in a remarkable elevation of Bif-1 protein levels, and silencing Bif-1 expression abrogated GSK-3beta-inhibition-induced autophagic response and cell death. Taken together, our study suggests that GSK-3beta promotes cell survival by modulating Bif-1-dependent autophagic response and cell death.

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