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J Dermatol Sci. 2001 Jan;25(1):72-7.

DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit is cleaved during UV-induced apoptosis.

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Department of Dermatology, Kansai Medical University, 10-15 Fumizono-cho, Moriguchi, 570-8506, Osaka, Japan.


Ultraviolet radiation can induce the injury of epidermal keratinocytes, resulting in sunburn cell (apoptotic cell) formation. It has been demonstrated that the protease caspase-3, a downstream molecule of the CD95 pathway, is activated in UV-exposed HaCaT cells, and that the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) is cleaved by interleukin-1beta converting enzyme (ICE)-like protease during apoptosis induced by X-rays, staurosporine and etoposide. Then, we studied whether the DNA-PKcs is cleaved during UV-induced apoptosis in keratinocytes. We used the well-characterized cloned human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT, which carries p53 mutations. UVB-induced apoptotic cells were observed by TdT-mediated deoxyuridine 5'-triphosphate nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and agarose gel electrophoresis. Western blot analysis was performed using the antibody against DNA-PKcs. The cleavage occurred during UVB-induced apoptosis in HaCaT cells. It suggests that the cleavage is associated with loss of DNA-PK activity. Thus, a functional relevance of cleavage of DNA-PKcs may be to prevent rejoining fragmented DNA during apoptosis, thereby promoting apoptotic processes. Although apoptosis was not completely blocked by the caspase-3 inhibitor, the cleavage of the DNA-PKcs was blocked. These results indicate that DNA-PKcs is cleaved by the caspase-3 for UVB-induced apoptosis in HaCaT cells.

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