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Cancer Res. 1996 Feb 1;56(3):438-42.

Cleavage of retinoblastoma protein during apoptosis: an interleukin 1 beta-converting enzyme-like protease as candidate.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, USA.


We had found that in an early stage of DNA damage-induced, p53-independent apoptosis, retinoblastoma (RB) protein is hypophosphorylated to a p115 form by an activated serine/threonine phosphatase. Here, we report that accompanying the internucleosomal fragmentation of DNA, the newly formed p115/hypo/RB was immediately cleaved into at least two fragments, p68 and p48. The RB cleavage activity possessed properties of interleukin 1 beta-converting enzyme family. Addition of a specific tetrapeptide interleukin 1 beta-converting enzyme inhibitor prevented cleavage of p115/hypo/RB and early apoptotic cells from undergoing further apoptosis. We suggest that activation of the RB phosphatase and protease may be involved in mediating the two physiological stages of apoptosis, commitment and execution, respectively.

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