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Oncogene. 2001 Sep 20;20(42):6026-38.

Ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage triggers apoptosis in nucleotide excision repair-deficient cells via Bcl-2 decline and caspase-3/-8 activation.

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Division of Applied Toxicology, Institute of Toxicology, University of Mainz, Obere Zahlbacher Strasse 67, D-55131 Mainz, Germany.


Ultraviolet (UV) light is a potent mutagenic and genotoxic agent. Whereas DNA damage induced by UV light is known to be responsible for UV-induced genotoxicity, its role in triggering apoptosis is still unclear. We addressed this issue by comparing nucleotide excision repair (NER) deficient 27-1 and 43-3B Chinese hamster (CHO) cells with the corresponding wild-type and ERCC-1 complemented cells. It is shown that NER deficient cells are dramatically hypersensitive to UV-C induced apoptosis, indicating that DNA damage is the major stimulus for the apoptotic response. Apoptosis triggered by UV-C induced DNA damage is related to caspase- and proteosome-dependent degradation of Bcl-2 protein. The expression of other members of the Bcl-2 family such as Bax, Bcl-x(L) and Bak were not affected. Bcl-2 decline is causally involved in UV-C induced apoptosis since overexpression of Bcl-2 protected NER deficient cells against apoptosis. We also demonstrate that caspase-8, caspase-9 and caspase-3 are activated and PARP is cleaved in response to unrepaired UV-C induced DNA damage. Caspase-8 activation occurred independently of CD95 receptor activation since CD95R/FasR and CD95L/FasL were not altered in expression, and transfection of transdominant negative FADD failed to block apoptosis. Overall, the data demonstrate that UV-C induced non-repaired DNA damage triggers apoptosis in NER deficient fibroblasts involving components of the intrinsic mitochondrial damage pathway.

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