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

Polyamine depletion prevents camptothecin-induced apoptosis by inhibiting the release of cytochrome c.

We have shown previously that depletion of polyamines delays apoptosis induced by camptothecin in rat intestinal epithelial cells (IEC-6). Mitochondria play an important role in the regulation of apoptosis in mammalian cells because apoptotic signals induce mitochondria to release cytochrome c. The latter interacts with Apaf-1 to activate caspase-9, which in turn activates downstream caspase-3. Bcl-2 family proteins are involved in the regulation of cytochrome c release from mitochondria. In this study, we examined the effects of polyamine depletion on the activation of the caspase cascade, release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, and expression and translocation of Bcl-2 family proteins. We inhibited ornithine decarboxylase, the first rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine synthesis, with alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) to deplete cells of polyamines. Depletion of polyamines prevented camptothecin-induced release of cytochrome c from mitochondria and decreased the activity of caspase-9 and caspase-3. The mitochondrial membrane potential was not disrupted when cytochrome c was released. Depletion of polyamines decreased translocation of Bax to mitochondria during apoptosis. The expression of antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-x(L) and Bcl-2 was increased in DFMO-treated cells. Caspase-8 activity and cleavage of Bid were decreased in cells depleted of polyamines. These results suggest that polyamine depletion prevents IEC-6 cells from apoptosis by preventing the translocation of Bax to mitochondria, thus preventing the release of cytochrome c.[1]


  1. Polyamine depletion prevents camptothecin-induced apoptosis by inhibiting the release of cytochrome c. Yuan, Q., Ray, R.M., Johnson, L.R. Am. J. Physiol., Cell Physiol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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