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Cell Death Differ. 2013 Feb;20(2):343-52. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2012.149. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Apaf-1- and Caspase-8-independent apoptosis.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Konoe, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Two major apoptosis pathways, the mitochondrial and death receptor pathways, are well recognized. Here we established cell lines from the fetal thymus of Apaf-1-, Caspase-9-, or Bax/Bak-deficient mice. These cell lines were resistant to apoptosis induced by DNA-damaging agents, RNA or protein synthesis inhibitors, or stress in the endoplasmic reticulum. However, they underwent efficient apoptosis when treated with kinase inhibitors such as staurosporine and H-89, indicating that these inhibitors induce a caspase-dependent apoptosis that is different from the mitochondrial pathway. CrmA, a Caspase-8 inhibitor, did not prevent staurosporine-induced apoptosis of fetal thymic cell lines, suggesting that the death receptor pathway was also not involved in this process. The staurosporine-induced cell death was inhibited by okadaic acid, a serine/threonine phosphatase inhibitor, suggesting that dephosphorylation of a proapoptotic molecule triggered the death process, or that phosphorylation of an antiapoptotic molecule could block the process. Cells of various types (fetal thymocytes, bone marrows, thymocytes, and splenocytes), but not embryonic fibroblasts, were sensitive to the noncanonical staurosporine-induced apoptosis, suggesting that the noncanonical apoptosis pathway is tissue specific.

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