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

Caspase-2 acts upstream of mitochondria to promote cytochrome c release during etoposide-induced apoptosis.

DNA damage induced by the cancer chemotherapeutic drug etoposide triggers the onset of a series of intracellular events characteristic of apoptosis. Among the early changes observed is the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, although the mechanism responsible for this effect is unclear. We demonstrate here a role for caspase-2 in etoposide-induced cytochrome c release. In particular, Jurkat T-lymphocytes treated with an irreversible caspase-2 inhibitor, benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Asp-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone (z-VDVAD-fmk), or stably transfected with pro-caspase-2 antisense (Casp-2/AS) are refractory to cytochrome c release stimulated by etoposide. Experiments performed using a reconstituted cell-free system indicate that etoposide-induced cytochrome c release by way of caspase-2 occurs independently of cytosolic factors, suggesting that the nuclear pool of pro-caspase-2 is critical to this process. Apart from inhibiting cytochrome c release, undermining caspase-2 activity results in an attenuation of downstream events, such as pro-caspase-9 and -3 activation, phosphatidylserine exposure on the plasma membrane, and DNA fragmentation. Taken together, our data indicate that caspase-2 provides an important link between etoposide-induced DNA damage and the engagement of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.[1]


  1. Caspase-2 acts upstream of mitochondria to promote cytochrome c release during etoposide-induced apoptosis. Robertson, J.D., Enoksson, M., Suomela, M., Zhivotovsky, B., Orrenius, S. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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