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      Caspase-9, caspase-3 and caspase-7 have distinct roles during intrinsic apoptosis


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          Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death that is regulated by the Bcl-2 family and caspase family of proteins. The caspase cascade responsible for executing cell death following cytochrome c release is well described; however the distinct roles of caspases-9, -3 and -7 during this process are not completely defined.


          Here we demonstrate several unique functions for each of these caspases during cell death. Specific inhibition of caspase-9 allows for efficient release of cytochrome c, but blocks changes in mitochondrial morphology and ROS production. We show that caspase-9 can cleave Bid into tBid at amino acid 59 and that this cleavage of Bid is required for ROS production following serum withdrawal. We also demonstrate that caspase-3-deficient MEFs are less sensitive to intrinsic cell death stimulation, yet have higher ROS production. In contrast, caspase-7-deficient MEFs are not resistance to intrinsic cell death, but remain attached to the ECM.


          Taken together, these data suggest that caspase-9 is required for mitochondrial morphological changes and ROS production by cleaving and activating Bid into tBid. After activation by caspase-9, caspase-3 inhibits ROS production and is required for efficient execution of apoptosis, while effector caspase-7 is required for apoptotic cell detachment.

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          Most cited references17

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          Cell death: critical control points.

          Programmed cell death is a distinct genetic and biochemical pathway essential to metazoans. An intact death pathway is required for successful embryonic development and the maintenance of normal tissue homeostasis. Apoptosis has proven to be tightly interwoven with other essential cell pathways. The identification of critical control points in the cell death pathway has yielded fundamental insights for basic biology, as well as provided rational targets for new therapeutics.
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            Cytochrome c and dATP-dependent formation of Apaf-1/caspase-9 complex initiates an apoptotic protease cascade.

            We report here the purification of the third protein factor, Apaf-3, that participates in caspase-3 activation in vitro. Apaf-3 was identified as a member of the caspase family, caspase-9. Caspase-9 and Apaf-1 bind to each other via their respective NH2-terminal CED-3 homologous domains in the presence of cytochrome c and dATP, an event that leads to caspase-9 activation. Activated caspase-9 in turn cleaves and activates caspase-3. Depletion of caspase-9 from S-100 extracts diminished caspase-3 activation. Mutation of the active site of caspase-9 attenuated the activation of caspase-3 and cellular apoptotic response in vivo, indicating that caspase-9 is the most upstream member of the apoptotic protease cascade that is triggered by cytochrome c and dATP.
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              Caspases 3 and 7: key mediators of mitochondrial events of apoptosis.

              The current model of apoptosis holds that upstream signals lead to activation of downstream effector caspases. We generated mice deficient in the two effectors, caspase 3 and caspase 7, which died immediately after birth with defects in cardiac development. Fibroblasts lacking both enzymes were highly resistant to both mitochondrial and death receptor-mediated apoptosis, displayed preservation of mitochondrial membrane potential, and had defective nuclear translocation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF). Furthermore, the early apoptotic events of Bax translocation and cytochrome c release were also delayed. We conclude that caspases 3 and 7 are critical mediators of mitochondrial events of apoptosis.

                Author and article information

                BMC Cell Biol
                BMC Cell Biol
                BMC Cell Biology
                BioMed Central
                9 July 2013
                : 14
                : 32
                [1 ]Departments of Hematology and Medical Oncology and Cell Biology, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, 1365 Clifton Road NE Bldg:C, Rm:4012, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
                [2 ]Sheila and David Fuente Graduate Program in Cancer Biology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA
                [3 ]Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA
                Copyright ©2013 Brentnall et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 19 November 2012
                : 17 June 2013
                Research Article

                Cell biology
                caspase,bid,ros,intrinsic apoptosis,mitochondria,cell detachment
                Cell biology
                caspase, bid, ros, intrinsic apoptosis, mitochondria, cell detachment


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