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FEBS Lett. 2001 Sep 14;505(2):206-12.

Apaf-1 overexpression partially overcomes apoptotic resistance in a cisplatin-selected HeLa cell line.

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Tumor Biology Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan 33332, Taiwan, ROC.


Inhibition of caspase-3-mediated apoptosis has been hypothesized to be associated with chemoresistance. Investigations of apoptosis revealed that cytosolic cytochrome c is associated with a complex of apoptotic protease activating factor-1 (Apaf-1), an adapter molecule, and caspase-9 to activate caspase-3. However, whether these apoptotic molecules are involved in acquired cisplatin resistance is not understood. The present work shows reduced activation of caspase-3 and apoptosis in a cisplatin-selected HeLa cell line. Ac-DEVD-CHO, a caspase-3 inhibitor, inhibited cisplatin-induced apoptosis about 60-70% in both cell lines. Ac-LEHD-CHO, a caspase-9 inhibitor or Ac-IETD-CHO, a caspase-8 inhibitor, inhibited cisplatin-induced caspase-3 activation and apoptosis similarly in both cell lines. In addition, cisplatin induced the activation of caspase-9, the upstream activator of caspase-3, in a dose-dependent manner, and the activation of caspase-9 was less induced in resistant cells. The accumulation of cytosolic cytochrome c, an activator of caspase-9, and the induction of the mitochondrial membrane-associated voltage-dependent anion channel were also reduced in cisplatin-resistant cells. However, the concentration of Bcl-2 family proteins in cisplatin-resistant cells was normal. The concentration of Apaf-1 was unaltered in both cell lines. Increasing the cellular concentration of Apaf-1 through the transient expression of the gene increased the induction of apoptosis in resistant cells, associated with enhanced activation of caspase-9, caspase-3 and DNA fragmentation factor. Regression analysis reveals that the modification factor, the ratio of the slope in the linear range of the dose-response curve with Apaf-1 to the slope without Apaf-1, is 1.5 and 4.75 in the HeLa and cisplatin-resistant HeLa cells, respectively. These results indicate that apoptosis and caspases are less induced in cisplatin-selected HeLa cells. They also suggest that ectopic overexpression of Apaf-1 may partially reverse the acquired cisplatin resistance.

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