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Oncogene. 1996 Jun 6;12(11):2251-7.

Bcl-2 expression prevents activation of the ICE protease cascade.

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First Department of Surgery, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.


The Bcl-2 family and the ICE family of cysteine proteases play important roles in regulating cell death. We show here that induction of cell death by a Ca2+ ionophore or hypoxia results in increased levels and activity of active ICE(-like) proteases and the subsequent activation of CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases, and that inhibition of these protease activities reduces the extent of cell death. Overexpression of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL inhibits the cell death and the activation of ICE(-like) and CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases, indicating that Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL act upstream of these proteases. We also show that specific inhibition of ICE(-like) proteases in vivo prevents activation of CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases, whereas inhibition of CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases does not prevent activation of ICE(-like) proteases, suggesting the existence of a protease cascade in vivo that requires ICE(-like) proteases for activation of CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases. Induction of necrotic cell death by KCN also induces activation of ICE(-like) proteases but not of CPP32/Yama(-like) proteases, and Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL inhibit the activation and the cell death, suggesting that the functional site of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL is also upstream of ICE(-like) proteases in at least some forms of necrosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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