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Curr Biol. 1999 Feb 11;9(3):147-50.

Bcl-2 regulates amplification of caspase activation by cytochrome c.

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1
School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK.

Abstract

Caspases, a family of specific proteases, have central roles in apoptosis [1]. Caspase activation in response to diverse apoptotic stimuli involves the relocalisation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytoplasm where it stimulates the proteolytic processing of caspase precursors. Cytochrome c release is controlled by members of the Bcl-2 family of apoptosis regulators [2] [3]. The anti-apoptotic members Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL may also control caspase activation independently of cytochrome c relocalisation or may inhibit a positive feedback mechanism [4] [5] [6] [7]. Here, we investigate the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in the regulation of caspase activation using a model cell-free system. We found that Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL set a threshold in the amount of cytochrome c required to activate caspases, even in soluble extracts lacking mitochondria. Addition of dATP (which stimulates the procaspase-processing factor Apaf-1 [8] [9]) overcame inhibition of caspase activation by Bcl-2, but did not prevent the control of cytochrome c release from mitochondria by Bcl-2. Cytochrome c release was accelerated by active caspase-3 and this positive feedback was negatively regulated by Bcl-2. These results provide evidence for a mechanism to amplify caspase activation that is suppressed at several distinct steps by Bcl-2, even after cytochrome c is released from mitochondria.

PMID:
10021389
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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