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Am J Pathol. 2012 Jan;180(1):41-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.09.017. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Pivotal role of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 in monoclonal free light chain-mediated apoptosis.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Nephrology Research and Training Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0007, USA.


Renal failure, a major complication associated with multiple myeloma, is usually related to deposition of monoclonal immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs) and directly contributes to morbidity and mortality in this disease. The present study focused on the cytotoxic effects of monoclonal FLCs. Human proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2) were examined after incubation with two human monoclonal FLCs (termed κ2 and λ3). Incubation of HK-2 cells for 24 and 48 hours with either FLCs at 1 mg/mL promoted activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3 and increased the rate of apoptosis. Because prior studies demonstrated that FLCs generated intracellular oxidative stress, our studies focused on the redox-sensitive mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase known as apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1). A time-dependent increase in phosphorylation of ASK1 at T845, indicating activation of this enzyme, was observed. Small interfering RNA designed to reduce ASK1 expression in HK-2 cells successfully decreased ASK1, which was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Incubation of ASK1-depleted HK-2 cells with the two FLCs prevented the increase in apoptosis while pretreating HK-2 cell with nontargeting small interfering RNA did not prevent FLCs-mediated apoptosis. The combined data demonstrate that monoclonal FLCs activated the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in renal epithelial cells by activation of ASK1.

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