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J Exp Med. 1996 Dec 1;184(6):2445-50.

Different interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme (ICE) family protease requirements for the apoptotic death of T lymphocytes triggered by diverse stimuli.

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Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1360, USA.


Two cell permeable peptide fluoromethyl ketone inhibitors of Interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme (ICE) family proteases were tested as inhibitors of apoptotic cell death of T lymphocytes at various stages of differentiation. The CPP-32-like protease activity in apoptotic cell lysates was blocked by both the ICE inhibitor Cbz-Val-Ala-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethyl ketone (ZVAD-FMK) as well as its truncated analog Boc-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethyl ketone (BD-FMK), which failed to block ICE. In vitro apoptotic death in murine thymocytes triggered by the independent agents dexamethasone, etoposide, radiation, anti-Fas, and anti-CD3 was blocked equally well by BD-FMK and ZVAD-FMK, but not by the control reagent Cbz-Phe-Ala-fluoromethyl ketone. In activated T cell blasts, while anti-CD3/ Fas-induced death was almost completely inhibited by both ZVAD-FMK, and BD-FMK, death induced by dexamethasone, etoposide, or irradiation was more sensitive to inhibition by BD-FMK. In the murine T cell line CTLL-2, apoptotic death induced by IL-2 withdrawal, etoposide, or dexamethasone was inhibited by BD-FMK, while ZVAD-FMK was without effect. These data indicate that ICE-family proteases comprise a common functional step in distinct T cell apoptotic death pathways, but suggest that different family members are likely to be critical in various differentiated T cell types, even when triggered by the same stimulus.

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