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Exp Cell Res. 1998 Feb 1;238(2):422-9.

Serum deprivation and protein synthesis inhibition induce two different apoptotic processes in N18 neuroblastoma cells.

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Departament de Ciències Mèdiques Bàsiques, Universitat de Lleida, Av. Rovira Roure, 44, Lleida, Catalonia, 25198, Spain.


N18 are murine neuroblastoma cells that underwent cell death upon serum deprivation or inhibition of protein synthesis by means of cycloheximide (CHX). In both cases, an ultrastructural morphology and an internucleosomal pattern of DNA fragmentation typical of apoptosis were found. However, electron microscopy revealed abundant lipid vesicles in the cytoplasm of CHX-treated cells that were not found in their serum-deprived counterparts. In addition, when both types of apoptotic cells were compared by means of flow cytometry and chromatin staining with propidium iodide, the former showed consistently less fluorescence than the latter. Therefore, in N18 cells, both apoptotic processes seemed to differ at a structural level. At a functional level, we found that apoptosis was blocked by the protease inhibitor TLCK in CHX-treated but not in serum-deprived cells. On the other hand, we generated N18 clones that overexpressed Bcl-2 protein. After a period of 48 h we found that identical levels of Bcl-2 protein were able to block apoptosis in serum-deprived but not in CHX-treated cells. In conclusion, two different biochemical pathways leading to apoptosis seem to coexist in N18 neuroblastoma cells.

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