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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42291. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042291. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

c-Abl is an upstream regulator of acid sphingomyelinase in apoptosis induced by inhibition of integrins αvβ3 and αvβ5.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.


Inhibition of integrins αvβ3/αvβ5 by the cyclic function-blocking peptide, RGDfV (Arg-Gly-Asp-Phe-Val) can induce apoptosis in both normal cells and tumor cells. We show that RGDfV induced apoptosis in ECV-304 carcinoma cells, increased activity and mRNA expression of acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), and increased ceramides C(16), C(18:0), C(24:0) and C(24:1) while decreasing the corresponding sphingomyelins. siRNA to ASM decreased RGDfV-induced apoptosis as measured by TUNEL, PARP cleavage, mitochondrial depolarization, and caspase-3 and caspase-8 activities, as well as by annexinV in a 3D collagen model. These findings indicate a causal role for ASM in RGDfV-induced apoptosis in ECV-304. We have shown that c-Abl, a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, also mediates RGDfV-induced apoptosis. However, c-Abl, has not been previously linked to ASM in any system. Here we show that STI-571 (imatinib, inhibitor of c-Abl) inhibited RGDfV-induced ASM activity. Furthermore, STI-571 and c-Abl-siRNA both inhibited RGDfV-induced increase in ASM mRNA, but ASM-siRNA did not affect c-Abl phosphorylation or expression, supporting that c-Abl regulates the RGDfV-induced increase in ASM expression. These studies implicate ASM as a mediator of apoptosis induced by inhibition of integrins αvβ3/αvβ5, and for the first time place c-Abl as an upstream regulator of ASM expression and activity.

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