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Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Apr 1;36(7):858-71.

Overexpression of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 renders Jurkat T cells resistant to fas-mediated apoptosis: involvement of iron released by HO-1.

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Genomic Research Center for Immune Disorders and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Iksan, Chonbuk, Republic of Korea.


We recently demonstrated that heme oxygenase (HO)-1 is constitutively expressed in human CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells and induced by anti-CD28 or anti-CD28/anti-CD3 stimulation, even in CD4+CD25- responder T cells. To study the effects of HO-1 expression on lymphocyte survival, we transfected the HO-1 gene or induced the gene to express HO-1 protein with cobalt protoporphyrin (CoPP) in Jurkat T cells. Consistently, anti-Fas antibody triggered apoptotic cell death in wild-type Jurkat T cells. Surprisingly, however, HO-1-overexpressing Jurkat T cells showed strong resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis. In contrast, abrogation of HO-1 expression by antisense oligomer against HO-1 gene from CoPP-treated cells or depletion of iron by desferrioxamine from HO-1-transfected cells abolished the resistance. In addition, exogenously added iron rendered wild-type Jurkat T cells resistant. The resistance involved IkappaB kinase (IKK) activation via iron-induced reactive oxygen species formation, NF-kappaB activation by activated IKK, and c-FLIP expression by activated NF-kappaB. Primary CD4+ T cells induced by CoPP to express HO-1 also showed more resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis than untreated cells. Our findings suggest that HO-1 plays a critical and nonredundant role in Fas-mediated activation-induced cell death of T lymphocytes.

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