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

Selective knockdown of the long variant of cellular FLICE inhibitory protein augments death receptor-mediated caspase-8 activation and apoptosis.

Death receptors trigger apoptosis by activating the apical cysteine proteases caspase-8 and -10 within a death-inducing signaling complex (DISC). c-FLIP (cellular FLICE inhibitory protein) is an enzymatically inactive relative of caspase-8 and -10 that binds to the DISC. Two major c-FLIP variants result from alternative mRNA splicing: a short, 26-kDa protein (c-FLIP(S)) and a long, 55-kDa form (c-FLIP(L)). The role of c-FLIP(S) as an inhibitor of death receptor-mediated apoptosis is well established; however, the function of c-FLIP(L) remains controversial. Although overexpression of transfected c-FLIP(L) inhibits apoptosis, ectopic expression at lower levels supports caspase-8 activation and cell death. Simultaneous ablation of both c-FLIP variants augments death receptor-mediated apoptosis, but the impact of selective depletion of c-FLIP(L) on caspase-8 activation and subsequent apoptosis is not well defined. To investigate this, we developed small interfering RNAs that specifically knock down expression of c-FLIP(L) in several cancer cell lines and studied their effect on apoptosis initiation by Apo2L/TRAIL (Apo2 ligand/tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand). Knockdown of c-FLIP(L) augmented DISC recruitment, activation, processing, and release of caspase-8, thereby enhancing effector-caspase stimulation and apoptosis. Thus, endogenous c-FLIP(L) functions primarily as an inhibitor of death receptor-mediated apoptosis.[1]


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