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Br J Cancer. 2002 Oct 7;87(8):909-17.

Apoptotic mechanisms in T47D and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

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Institute for Cancer Studies, Division of Genomic Medicine, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK.


To investigate the mechanisms underlying apoptosis in breast cancer cells, staurosporine was used as an apoptotic stimulus in the human breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and T47D. Staurosporine induced dose and time dependent increases in DNA fragmentation which was abrogated by z-VAD-fmk. MCF-7 cells did not express caspase-3, suggesting that DNA fragmentation occurred in the absence of caspase-3 and that other caspases may be involved. Staurosporine induced DEVDase activity in T47D cells suggesting the involvement of caspase-3 and/or caspase-7, yet there was no DEVDase activity in MCF-7 cells, probably ruling out the involvement caspase-7. However, staurosporine induced the cleavage of pro-caspase-6 in MCF-7 cells, but not in T47D cells. Caspase dependent PARP cleavage was detected in MCF-7 cells at 3 h, whereas only partial PARP cleavage was detected in T47D cells and then only after 24 h. Moreover, staurosporine led to cytochrome c release at 2 h in MCF-7 cells and 6 h in T47D cells. In addition, a time dependent and caspase-independent reduction of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential was observed; which appeared to occur after the release of cytochrome c. Translocation of Bax from the cytosol to mitochondria was observed in both cell types, and this preceded cytochrome c release in both T47D and MCF-7 cells. Apoptotic events in both cell types differ temporally, involving activation of different caspases and mitochondrial changes.

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