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J Biol Chem. 1996 Nov 15;271(46):29073-9.

New paradigm for lymphocyte granule-mediated cytotoxicity. Target cells bind and internalize granzyme B, but an endosomolytic agent is necessary for cytosolic delivery and subsequent apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Evanston Hospital, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60201, USA.


Lymphocyte granule-mediated apoptosis is postulated to entail the formation of membrane pores by perforin. Then soluble granzyme reaches the cytosol either through these pores or by reparative pinocytosis. We demonstrate here that Jurkat cells bind and internalize granzyme B via high affinity binding sites without toxic consequence. Apoptosis occurs, however, if sublytic perforin is added to targets washed free of soluble granzyme B. We suggest that granule-mediated apoptosis mimics viral strategies for cellular entry. Accordingly, co-internalization of granzyme B with adenovirus, a virus that escapes endosomes to reach the cytosol, also induced apoptosis. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and processing of CPP32, ICE-LAP3, and Mch2 were detected at 30 min, while cytosolic acidification and DNA fragmentation occurred at 60 min. Annexin V binding and membrane permeabilization arose at 4 h. The concurrent activation of the Ced-3 proteases differed from the rate at which each cysteine protease is cleaved in vitro by granzyme B. Thus, granzyme B may not directly process these proteases in whole cells but rather may function by activating a more proximal enzyme. These results indicate that adenovirus-mediated delivery of granzyme B is suitable for elucidating biochemical events that accompany granule-mediated apoptosis.

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