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Immunity. 1999 May;10(5):585-94.

Granzyme A loading induces rapid cytolysis and a novel form of DNA damage independently of caspase activation.

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Center for Blood Research and Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

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  • Immunity 1999 Jun;10(6):following 768.


Cytotoxic lymphocytes trigger apoptosis by releasing perforin and granzymes (Grn). GrnB activates the caspase apoptotic pathway, but little is known about GrnA-induced cell death. Perforin was used to load recombinant GrnA and GrnB and enzymatically inactive variants into target cells. GrnA induces single-strand DNA breaks that can be labeled with Klenow polymerase and visualized on alkaline gels. GrnA-induced DNA damage but not cytolysis requires GrnA proteolysis. GrnA-induced membrane perturbation, nuclear condensation, and DNA damage are unimpaired by caspase blockade. GrnA fails to induce cleavage of caspase-3, lamin B, rho-GTPase, or PARP. GrnA-induced cytotoxicity and cleavage of PHAP II, a previously identified GrnA substrate, are unimpaired in Jurkat cells that overexpress bcl-2. Therefore, GrnA activates a novel apoptotic pathway.

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