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Mol Cells. 2009 Dec 31;28(6):559-63. doi: 10.1007/s10059-009-0151-7. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, a glycolytic intermediate, plays a key role in controlling cell fate via inhibition of caspase activity.

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Medical Proteomics Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Daejeon 305-806, Korea.


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate is a key intermediate in several central metabolic pathways of all organisms. Aldolase and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase are involved in the production or elimination of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate during glycolysis or gluconeogenesis, and are differentially expressed under various physiological conditions, including cancer, hypoxia, and apoptosis. In this study, we examine the effects of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate on cell survival and apoptosis. Overexpression of aldolase protected cells against apoptosis, and addition of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate to cells delayed apoptosis. Additionally, delayed apoptotic phenomena were observed when glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate was added to a cell-free system, in which artificial apoptotic process was induced by adding dATP and cytochrome c. Surprisingly, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate directly suppressed caspase-3 activity in a reversible noncompetitive mode, preventing caspase-dependent proteolysis. Based on these results, we suggest that glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, a key molecule in several central metabolic pathways, functions as a molecule switch between cell survival and apoptosis.

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