Send to

Choose Destination
J Cell Biochem. 2009 Nov 1;108(4):935-46. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22325.

Proteasome inhibition activates the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis in human CD4+ T cells.

Author information

Department of Transplantation Immunology, Institute of Immunology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 305, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


We have previously shown that inhibition of the proteolytic activity of the proteasome induces apoptosis and suppresses essential functions of activated human CD4(+) T cells, and we report now the detailed mechanisms of apoptosis following proteasome inhibition in these cells. Here we show that proteasome inhibition by bortezomib activates the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis in activated CD4(+) T cells by disrupting the equilibrium of pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic proteins at the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) and by inducing the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Proteasome inhibition leads to accumulation of pro-apoptotic proteins PUMA, Noxa, Bim and p53 at the OMM. This event provokes mitochondrial translocation of activated Bax and Bak homodimers, which induce loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsim). Breakdown of DeltaPsim is followed by rapid release of pro-apoptotic Smac/DIABLO and HtrA2 from mitochondria, whereas release of cytochrome c and AIF is delayed. Cytoplasmic Smac/DIABLO and HtrA2 antagonize IAP-mediated inhibition of partially activated caspases, leading to premature activation of caspase-3 followed by activation of caspase-9. Our data show that proteasome inhibition triggers the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis by activating mutually independent apoptotic pathways. These results provide novel insights into the mechanisms of apoptosis induced by proteasome inhibition in activated T cells and underscore the future use of proteasome inhibitors for immunosuppression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center