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EMBO J. 1995 Nov 1;14(21):5179-90.

Microfilament reorganization during apoptosis: the role of Gas2, a possible substrate for ICE-like proteases.

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LNCIB Laboratorio Nazionale Consorzio Interuniversitario Biotechnologie, AREA Science Park, Trieste, Italy.


Gas2, a component of the microfilament system, belongs to the class of gas genes whose expression is induced at growth arrest. After serum or growth factor addition to quiescent NIH 3T3 cells, Gas2 is hyperphosphorylated and relocalized at the membrane ruffles. By overexpressing gas2wt and a series of deletion mutants of the C-terminal region, we have analysed its role in the organization of the actin cytoskeleton in different cell lines. Overexpression of Gas2 deleted at its C-terminal region (delta 276-314 and delta 236-314), but not its wild-type form, induces dramatic changes in the actin cytoskeleton and cell morphology. These effects are not due to interference of the deleted forms with the endogenous Gas2wt function but could be ascribed to a gain of function. We demonstrate that during apoptosis the C-terminal domain of Gas2 is removed by proteolytic cleavage, resulting in a protein that is similar in size to the described delta 276-314. Moreover, by using in vitro mutagenesis, we also demonstrate that the proteolytic processing of Gas2 during apoptosis is dependent on an aspartic acid residue at position 279. The evidence accumulated here could thus represent a first example of a mechanism linking apoptosis with the co-ordinated microfilament-dependent cell shape changes, as possibly mediated by an interleukin-1 beta-converting enzyme (ICE)-like dependent proteolytic cleavage of the Gas2 protein.

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