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Cell Death Differ. 2004 Sep;11(9):997-1008.

Molecular mechanisms of TNF-alpha-induced ceramide formation in human glioma cells: P53-mediated oxidant stress-dependent and -independent pathways.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Gifu University School of Medicine, Tsukasamachi-40, Gifu 500-8705, Japan.


The present study was designed to examine the roles of p53, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and ceramide, and to determine their mutual relationships during tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha-induced apoptosis of human glioma cells. In cells possessing wild-type p53, TNF-alpha stimulated ceramide formation via the activation of both neutral and acid sphingomyelinases (SMases), accompanied by superoxide anion (O2-*) production, and induced mitochondrial depolarization and cytochrome c release, whereas p53-deficient cells were partially resistant to TNF-alpha and lacked O2-* generation and neutral SMase activation. Restoration of functional p53 sensitized glioma cells expressing mutant p53 to TNF-alpha by accumulation of O2-*. z-IETD-fmk (benzyloxycarbonyl-Ile-Glu-Thr-Asp fluoromethyl ketone), but not z-DEVD-fmk (benzyloxycarbonyl-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp fluoromethyl ketone), blocked TNF-alpha-induced ceramide formation through both SMases as well as O2-* generation. Caspase-8 was processed by TNF-alpha regardless of p53 status of cells or the presence of antioxidants. Two separate signaling cascades, p53-mediated ROS-dependent and -independent pathways, both of which are initiated by caspase-8 activation, thus contribute to ceramide formation in TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis of human glioma cells.

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