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Microbiol Immunol. 1999;43(3):245-52.

Recruitment of apoptotic cysteine proteases (caspases) in influenza virus-induced cell death.

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Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center, Kasugai, Japan.


Influenza virus infection induces apoptosis in cultured cells with an augmented expression of Fas (APO-1/CD95). Caspases, a family of cysteine proteases structurally related to interleukin-1-beta-converting enzyme (ICE), play crucial roles in apoptosis induced by various stimuli, including Fas. However, activation of the caspase-cascade seems to be different in various pathways of apoptotic stimuli. We therefore examined the involvement of caspases in influenza virus-induced apoptosis using caspase inhibitors. We found that z-VAD-fmk and z-IETD-fmk effectively inhibited virus-induced apoptosis, whereas Ac-DEVD-CHO and Ac-YVAD-CHO showed partial and little effect on virus-induced cell death, respectively. Consistently, caspase-3-like activity, but not caspase-1-like activity, was increased in the virus-infected cells. The transfection of plasmids encoding viral inhibitors of caspase (v-FLIP or crmA) into HeLa cells inhibited apoptosis by virus infection. The peptide inhibitors of caspases used in this study did not inhibit viral replication. We conclude that influenza virus infection activates some caspases, and that this activation may be downstream of viral replication.

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