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J Biochem. 2003 Sep;134(3):359-64.

Vacuolar H+-ATPase inhibitor induces apoptosis via lysosomal dysfunction in the human gastric cancer cell line MKN-1.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Mie University School of Medicine, Tsu, Mie, 514-8507.


We investigated the mechanism of apoptosis induced by bafilomycin A(1), an inhibitor of vacuolar H(+)-ATPase. Bafilomycin A(1) significantly inhibited the growth of MKN-1 human gastric cancer cells. Bafilomycin A(1) induced apoptosis as demonstrated by DNA ladder formation and the TUNEL method. We designed a flow cytometric assay to detect the alteration in lysosomal pH using a fluorescent probe, fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated dextran. This assay revealed that bafilomycin A(1) dramatically increased lysosomal pH. However, bafilomycin A(1) induced neither significant decrease in mitochondrial transmembrane potential nor the release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytoplasm. Western blotting showed that cathepsin D, but not cathepsin L, was released into the cytoplasm. The activity of caspase-3 was significantly increased by bafilomycin A(1). However, cathepsin D did not directly cleave procaspase-3. These findings suggest that bafilomycin A(1)-induced apoptosis in MKN-1 cells is mediated by other proteases released after lysosomal dysfunction followed by activation of caspase-3 in a cytochrome c-independent manner. The present study showed that flow cytometric analysis of lysosomal pH can be useful to evaluate lysosomal protease-mediated apoptosis.

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