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Oncogene. 1999 Jun 10;18(23):3431-9.

Serine protease inhibitor TPCK prevents Taxol-induced cell death and blocks c-Raf-1 and Bcl-2 phosphorylation in human breast carcinoma cells.

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Gene Expression and Aging Section, Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


The mechanism of Taxol-induced apoptosis was investigated in MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells. Taxol-induced apoptosis was associated with phosphorylation of both c-Raf-1 and Bcl-2 and activation of ERK and JNK MAP kinases. The serine protease inhibitor N-tosyl-L-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone (TPCK) effectively blocked apoptosis, but N-p-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethyl ketone (TLCK), another serine protease inhibitor, was without effect. TPCK treatment also prevented phosphorylation of c-Raf-1 and Bcl-2 in response to Taxol treatment. The serine protease inhibitor did not alter JNK activity, but it enhanced Taxol-induced activation of ERK1/2. Treatment of cells with the inhibitor of MEK activation, PD98059, prevented Taxol-induced ERK activation both in the presence and absence of TPCK, but did not influence survival of either Taxol- or Taxol plus TPCK-treated cells. In addition, PD98059 had no effect on c-Raf-1 or Bcl-2 phosphorylation. Thus, while the Taxol-induced phosphorylations of c-Raf-1 and Bcl-2 proteins appear to be coupled, these events can be disassociated from ERK1/2 activation. In summary, these findings suggest that phosphorylation of c-Raf-1 and Bcl-2, but not ERK1/2, are important signaling events in Taxol-induced apoptosis of MCF-7 breast cancer cells and that a TPCK inhibitable protease(s) is required for these processes.

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