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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Segregation of nucleolar components coincides with caspase-3 activation in cisplatin-treated HeLa cells.

We studied morphological changes of the nucleoli in HeLa cells treated with cisplatin and compared them with induction of markers of programmed cell death and TUNEL staining. We used different light microscopic nucleolar staining methods allowing us to visualize not only nucleolar proteins but also nucleolar RNA. Our results show predominantly compact, centrally localized nucleoli in intact control HeLa cells. In cisplatin-treated HeLa cells, we found an early onset of nucleolar segregation of proteins detected by argyrophilic nucleolar organizer regions and anti-nucleolar monoclonal antibody as well as an increased immunoreactivity for activated caspase-3 after 6 hours. Staining with Toluidine Blue and Methyl-green Pyronine revealed segregated nucleoli 12 hours after the treatment with cisplatin. TUNEL positivity in cisplatin-treated HeLa cells was accompanied by the aggregation of the argyrophilic proteins in the central portion of nucleus, disappearance of nucleolar RNA and shrinkage of the nucleus after 24 hours. Monitoring of the biochemical changes by immunoblotting revealed that activation of distinct caspases and degradation of their downstream protein substrates is executed in two phases. During an early apoptotic stage beginning 4.5 hours post treatment an activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3 was observed. This was accompanied by proteolytic cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 ( PARP-1). The caspase-9 activation seems to be mediated by recruitment by the activating factor Apaf-1 because the increased accumulation of Apaf-1 and cytochrome C in cytosol preceded the generation of mature caspase-9 form. A second phase of apoptosis occurring between 10 and 15 hours post treatment was characterized by degradation of other nucleolar and nuclear proteins such as nuclear lamins, topoisomerase I and B23. In conclusion, remarkable segregation of nucleolar argyrophilic proteins, nucleolar RNA and a simultaneous activation of the cascade of caspases markedly preceded the TUNEL positivity in cisplatin-treated HeLa cells thereby substantiating the hypothesis that the nucleolus is a preferred target for caspase-3-dependent proteolysis in cisplatin-treated HeLa cells.[1]


  1. Segregation of nucleolar components coincides with caspase-3 activation in cisplatin-treated HeLa cells. Horky, M., Wurzer, G., Kotala, V., Anton, M., Vojtĕsek, B., Vácha, J., Wesierska-Gadek, J. J. Cell. Sci. (2001) [Pubmed]
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