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Oncol Rep. 1999 Jan-Feb;6(1):33-7.

Alteration of caspase-3 (CPP32/Yama/apopain) in wild-type MCF-7, breast cancer cells.

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Pharmacology Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan.


Caspase-3 (CPP32/Yama/apopain), one of the interleukin 1 -converting enzyme (ICE)-like proteases (caspases), is anticipated to mediate apoptotic cell death. We observed the expression of caspase-3 in various cancer cell lines and lack of normal expression of mRNA and protein in MCF-7, human breast carcinoma cell line. Sequence analysis of cDNA showed 125 nucleotides deletion in spite of no gross gene alteration of caspase-3 in MCF-7. The possible cause is altered splicing of the fragment followed by frame shift at translation level. MCF-7 cells are widely used in the research of apoptosis because of the high sensitivity to tumor necrosis factor induced cell death. However, our results suggest the existence of other apoptotic pathways independent on caspase-3 at least in MCF-7 cells.

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