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Apoptosis. 2005 Aug;10(4):809-20.

Apoptosis and the conformational change of Bax induced by proteasomal inhibition of PC12 cells are inhibited by bcl-xL and bcl-2.

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Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The function of the proteasome has been linked to various pathologies, including cancer and neurodegeneration. Proteasomal inhibition can lead to death in a variety of cell types, however the manner in which this occurs is unclear, and may depend on the particular cell type. In this work we have extended previous findings pertaining to the effects of pharmacological proteasomal inhibitors on PC12 cells, by examining in more detail the induced death pathway. We find that cell death is apoptotic by ultrastructural criteria. Caspase 9 and 3 are processed, cytochrome c is released from the mitochondria and a dominant negative form of caspase 9 prevents death. Furthermore, Bax undergoes a conformational change and is translocated to the mitochondria in a caspase-independent fashion. Total cell levels of Bax however do not change, whereas levels of the BH3-only protein Bim increase with proteasomal inhibition. Transient overexpression of bcl-xL or, to a lesser extent, of bcl-2, significantly decreased apoptotic death and prevented Bax conformational change. We conclude that death elicited by proteasomal inhibition of PC12 cells follows a classical "intrinsic" pathway. Significantly, antiapoptotic bcl-2 family members prevent apoptosis by inhibiting Bax conformational change. Increased levels of Bim may contribute to cell death in this model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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