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

Plasma membrane sequestration of apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 in human B-lymphoma cells: a novel mechanism of chemoresistance.

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a highly aggressive B-cell neoplasm harboring chromosomal rearrangements of the c-myc oncogene. BL cells frequently resist apoptosis induction by chemotherapeutic agents; however, the mechanism of unresponsiveness has not been elucidated. Here, we show that cytochrome c fails to stimulate apoptosome formation and caspase activation in cytosolic extracts of human BL-derived cell lines, due to insufficient levels of apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (Apaf-1). Enforced expression of Apaf-1 increased its concentration in the cytosolic compartment, restored cytochrome c-dependent caspase activation, and rendered the prototypic Raji BL cell line sensitive to etoposide- and staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Surprisingly, in nontransfected BL cells, the bulk of Apaf-1 was found to associate with discrete domains in the plasma membrane. Disruption of lipid raft domains or the actin cytoskeleton of Raji cells liberated Apaf-1 and restored sensitivity to cytochrome c-dependent apoptosis, indicating that constitutive Apaf-1 retained its ability to promote caspase activation. Moreover, disruption of lipid rafts sensitized BL cells to apoptosis induced by etoposide. Together, our findings suggest that ectopic (noncytosolic) localization of Apaf-1 may constitute a novel mechanism of chemoresistance in B lymphoma.[1]


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