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      Comparative Analysis of Caspase Activation and Apoptosis in Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells and Renal Cell Carcinomas

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          Background/Aims: Treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is limited by its resistance to conventional chemotherapies. This may occur, in part, from resistance to apoptosis. The role of caspase activation in apoptosis resistance in treated RCCs was investigated. Methods: Two human RCC cell lines (ACHN and SN12K1) and renal tubular epithelial cells (HK2) were treated with 5-fluorouracil (0.2–20 µg/ml) or cisplatin (1–100 µ M). Activation of caspase-3 and -2 was analysed and compared with levels of apoptosis. Caspase function was analysed using pan-caspase inhibition (z-VAD-fmk) and caspase-2 inhibition (z-VDVAD-fmk). Results: RCC apoptosis was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than in HK2s after treatment, confirming their chemoresistance. Pro-caspase-3 (32 kDa) was detected in all cell lines. Cleaved caspase-3 (19 kDa) was not detected by Western immunoblots in treated RCCs and only minimal activated caspase-3 was detected in treated RCCs using immunohistochemistry. All cells had pro-caspase-2 (48 kDa) and the activated form (33 kDa) appeared in all treated cells. Caspase inhibition caused a reduction in, but not negation of, therapy-induced apoptosis in HK2s and RCCs (p < 0.05 for HK2s and ACHN cells), indicating that a caspase activation pathway must occur in RCC apoptosis but this pathway does not act via caspase-3 cleavage. Inhibition of caspase-2 reduced apoptosis only in HK2s, indicating that the activated caspase-2, identified in treated RCCs, was not responsible for their apoptosis induction. Conclusion: Specific differences in caspase-3 and -2 activation were identified in renal tubular epithelium and RCCs after chemotherapy. Identification of RCC-specific caspase inactivation or redundancy may explain, in part, the resistance of RCCs to cancer therapies and may be useful in targeting apoptotic pathways to overcome RCC resistance to treatment.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Requirement for caspase-2 in stress-induced apoptosis before mitochondrial permeabilization.

          A current view is that cytotoxic stress, such as DNA damage, induces apoptosis by regulating the permeability of mitochondria. Mitochondria sequester several proteins that, if released, kill by activating caspases, the proteases that disassemble the cell. Cytokines activate caspases in a different way, by assembling receptor complexes that activate caspases directly; in this case, the subsequent mitochondrial permeabilization accelerates cell disassembly by amplifying caspase activity. We found that cytotoxic stress causes activation of caspase-2, and that this caspase is required for the permeabilization of mitochondria. Therefore, we argue that cytokine-induced and stress-induced apoptosis act through conceptually similar pathways in which mitochondria are amplifiers of caspase activity rather than initiators of caspase activation.
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            Mitochondrial Release of Caspase-2 and -9 during the Apoptotic Process

            The barrier function of mitochondrial membranes is perturbed early during the apoptotic process. Here we show that the mitochondria contain a caspase-like enzymatic activity cleaving the caspase substrate Z-VAD.afc, in addition to three biological activities previously suggested to participate in the apoptotic process: (a) cytochrome c; (b) an apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) which causes isolated nuclei to undergo apoptosis in vitro; and (c) a DNAse activity. All of these factors, which are biochemically distinct, are released upon opening of the permeability transition (PT) pore in a coordinate, Bcl-2–inhibitable fashion. Caspase inhibitors fully neutralize the Z-VAD.afc–cleaving activity, have a limited effect on the AIF activity, and have no effect at all on the DNase activities. Purification of proteins reacting with the biotinylated caspase substrate Z-VAD, immunodetection, and immunodepletion experiments reveal the presence of procaspase-2 and -9 in mitochondria. Upon induction of PT pore opening, these procaspases are released from purified mitochondria and become activated. Similarly, upon induction of apoptosis, both procaspases redistribute from the mitochondrion to the cytosol and are processed to generate enzymatically active caspases. This redistribution is inhibited by Bcl-2. Recombinant caspase-2 and -9 suffice to provoke full-blown apoptosis upon microinjection into cells. Altogether, these data suggest that caspase-2 and -9 zymogens are essentially localized in mitochondria and that the disruption of the outer mitochondrial membrane occurring early during apoptosis may be critical for their subcellular redistribution and activation.
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              Serial killers: ordering caspase activation events in apoptosis.

              Caspases participate in the molecular control of apoptosis in several guises; as triggers of the death machinery, as regulatory elements within it, and ultimately as a subset of the effector elements of the machinery itself. The mammalian caspase family is steadily growing and currently contains 14 members. At present, it is unclear whether all of these proteases participate in apoptosis. Thus, current research in this area is focused upon establishing the repertoire and order of caspase activation events that occur during the signalling and demolition phases of cell death. Evidence is accumulating to suggest that proximal caspase activation events are typically initiated by molecules that promote caspase aggregation. As expected, distal caspase activation events are likely to be controlled by caspases activated earlier in the cascade. However, recent data has cast doubt upon the functional demarcation of caspases into signalling (upstream) and effector (downstream) roles based upon their prodomain lengths. In particular, caspase-3 may perform an important role in propagating the caspase cascade, in addition to its role as an effector caspase within the death programme. Here, we discuss the apoptosis-associated caspase cascade and the hierarchy of caspase activation events within it.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Exp Nephrol
                Cardiorenal Medicine
                S. Karger AG
                April 2005
                10 February 2005
                : 99
                : 4
                : e112-e120
                aMolecular and Cellular Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Herston, and Departments of bUrology/Renal Transplantation and cRenal Medicine, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Australia
                83926 Nephron Exp Nephrol 2005;99:e112–e120
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 7, References: 34, Pages: 1
                Self URI (application/pdf): https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/83926
                Original Paper


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