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Apoptosis. 2006 Nov;11(11):1987-97.

Caspase-3 mediated feedback activation of apical caspases in doxorubicin and TNF-alpha induced apoptosis.

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Department of Pathology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Aberrant apoptosis has been associated with the development and therapeutic resistance of cancer. Recent studies suggest that caspase deficiency/downregulation is frequently detected in different cancers. We have previously shown that caspase-3 reconstitution significantly sensitized MCF-7 cells to doxorubicin and etoposide. In contrast to the well established role of caspase-3 as an effector caspase, the focus of this study is to delineate caspase-3 induced feedback activation of the apical caspases-2, -8, -9 and -10A in doxorubicin and TNF-alpha induced apoptosis. Using cell-free systems we show that caspases-9 and 2 are the most sensitive, caspase-8 is less sensitive and caspase-10A is the least sensitive to caspase-3 mediated-cleavage. When apoptosis is induced by doxorubicin or TNF-alpha in an intact cell model, cleavage of caspases-8 and -9, but not caspase-2, was markedly enhanced by caspase-3. Caspase-3 mediated-feedback and activation of caspase-8 and -9 in MCF-7/C3 cells is further supported by an increase in the cleavage of caspase-8 and 9 substrates and cytochrome c release. These data indicate that, in addition to its function as an effector caspase, caspase-3 plays an important role in maximizing the activation of apical caspases and crosstalk between the two major apoptotic pathways. The significant impact of caspase-3 on both effector and apical caspases suggests that modulation of caspase-3 activity would be a useful approach to overcome drug resistance in clinical oncology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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