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Br J Cancer. 2001 Mar 2;84(5):670-3.

Signal transduction activated by the cancer chemopreventive isothiocyanates: cleavage of BID protein, tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of JNK.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Central Campus, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ, UK.


Phenethyl isothiocyanate and allyl isothiocyanate induce apoptosis of human leukaemia HL60 cells in vitro. Apoptosis was associated with cleavage of p22 BID protein to p15, p13 and p11 fragments and activation of JNK and tyrosine phosphorylation (18 kDa and 45 kDa proteins). All these effects and apoptosis were prevented by exogenous glutathione (15 mM). Protein tyrosine phosphatase activity was unchanged. The general caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk prevented apoptosis but not JNK activation - excluding a role for caspases in JNK activation, whereas curcumin prevented JNK activation but only delayed apoptosis. This suggests that in isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis, the caspase pathway has an essential role, the JNK pathway a supporting role, and inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatases is not involved.

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