Expression and functional analysis of Apaf-1 isoforms - Extra WD-40 repeat is required for cytochrome c binding and regulated activation of procaspase-9
ABSTRACT Apaf-1 is an important apoptotic signaling molecule that can activate procaspase-9 in a cytochrome c/dATP-dependent fashion. Alternative splicing can create an NH(2)-terminal 11-amino acid insert between the caspase recruitment domain and ATPase domains or an additional COOH-terminal WD-40 repeat. Recently, several Apaf-1 isoforms have been identified in tumor cell lines, but their expression in tissues and ability to activate procaspase-9 remain poorly characterized. We performed analysis of normal tissue mRNAs to examine the relative expression of the Apaf-1 forms and identified Apaf-1XL, containing both the NH(2)-terminal and COOH-terminal inserts, as the major RNA form expressed in all tissues tested. We also identified another expressed isoform, Apaf-1LN, containing the NH(2)-terminal insert, but lacking the additional WD-40 repeat. Functional analysis of all identified Apaf-1 isoforms demonstrated that only those with the additional WD-40 repeat activated procaspase 9 in vitro in response to cytochrome c and dATP, while the NH(2)-terminal insert was not required for this activity. Consistent with this result, in vitro binding assays demonstrated that the additional WD-40 repeat was also required for binding of cytochrome c, subsequent Apaf-1 self-association, binding to procaspase-9, and formation of active Apaf-1 oligomers. These experiments demonstrate the expression of multiple Apaf-1 isoforms and show that only those containing the additional WD-40 repeat bind and activate procaspase-9 in response to cytochrome c and dATP.
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ABSTRACT: Alternative RNA structures (ARSs), or alternative transcript isoforms, are critical for regulating cellular phenotypes in humans. In addition to generating functionally diverse protein isoforms from a single gene, ARS can alter the sequence contents of 5'/3' untranslated regions (UTRs) and intronic regions, thus also affecting the regulatory effects of these regions. ARS may introduce premature stop codon(s) into a transcript, and render the transcript susceptible to nonsense-mediated decay, which in turn can influence the overall gene expression level. Meanwhile, ARS can regulate the presence/absence of upstream open reading frames and microRNA targeting sites in 5'UTRs and 3'UTRs, respectively, thus affecting translational efficiencies and protein expression levels. Furthermore, since ARS may alter exon-intron structures, it can influence the biogenesis of intronic microRNAs and indirectly affect the expression of the target genes of these microRNAs. The connections between ARS and multiple regulatory mechanisms underline the importance of ARS in determining cell fate. Accumulating evidence indicates that ARS-coupled regulations play important roles in tumorigenesis. Here I will review our current knowledge in this field, and discuss potential future directions.International Journal of Molecular Sciences 01/2014; 16(1):452-475. DOI:10.3390/ijms16010452 · 2.46 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Minnelide, a pro-drug of triptolide, has recently emerged as a potent anticancer agent. The precise mechanisms of its cytotoxic effects remain unclear. Cell viability was studied using CCK8 assay. Cell proliferation was measured real-time on cultured cells using Electric Cell Substrate Impedence Sensing (ECIS). Apoptosis was assayed by Caspase activity on cultured lung cancer cells and TUNEL staining on tissue sections. Expression of pro-survival and anti-apoptotic genes (HSP70, BIRC5, BIRC4, BIRC2, UACA, APAF-1) was estimated by qRTPCR. Effect of Minnelide on proliferative cells in the tissue was estimated by Ki-67 staining of animal tissue sections. In this study, we investigated in vitro and in vivo antitumor effects of triptolide/Minnelide in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Triptolide/Minnelide exhibited anti-proliferative effects and induced apoptosis in NSCLC cell lines and NSCLC mouse models. Triptolide/Minnelide significantly down-regulated the expression of pro-survival and anti-apoptotic genes (HSP70, BIRC5, BIRC4, BIRC2, UACA) and up-regulated pro-apoptotic APAF-1 gene, in part, via attenuating the NF-κB signaling activity. In conclusion, our results provide supporting mechanistic evidence for Minnelide as a potential in NSCLC.PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e77411. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0077411 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The intrinsic apoptosis pathway represents an important mechanism of stress-induced death of cancer cells. To gain insight into the functional status of the apoptosome apparatus in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), we studied its sensitivity to activation, the assembly of apoptosome complexes and stability of their precursors, and the importance of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) in the regulation of apoptosome activity, using cell-free cytosols from NSCLC cell lines and NSCLC tumours and lungs from 62 surgically treated patients. Treatment of cytosol samples with cytochrome c (cyt-c) and dATP induced proteolytic processing of procaspase-9 to caspase-9, which was followed by procaspase-3 processing to caspase-3, and by generation of caspase-3-like activity in 5 of 7 studied NSCLC cell lines. Further analysis demonstrated formation of high-Mr Apaf-1 complexes associated with cleaved caspase-9 in the (cyt-c + dATP)-responsive COLO-699 and CALU-1 cells. By contrast, in A549 cells, Apaf-1 and procaspase-9 co-eluted in the high-Mr fractions, indicating formation of an apoptosome complex unable of procaspase-9 processing. Thermal pre-treatment of cell-free cytosols in the absence of exogenous cyt-c and dATP lead to formation of Apaf-1 aggregates, unable to recruit and activate procaspase-9 in the presence of cyt-c and dATP, and to generate caspase‑3‑like activity. Further studies showed that the treatment with cyt-c and dATP induced a substantially higher increase of caspase-3-like activity in cytosol samples from NSCLC tumours compared to matched lungs. Tumour histology, grade and stage had no significant impact on the endogenous and the (cyt-c + dATP)-induced caspase-3-like activity. Upon addition into the cytosol, the XIAP-neutralizing peptides AVPIAQK and ATPFQEG only moderately heightened the (cyt-c + dATP)-induced caspase‑3‑like activity in some NSCLC tumours. Taken together, the present study provides evidence that the apoptosome apparatus is functional in the majority of NSCLCs and that its sensitivity to the (cyt-c + dATP)-mediated activation is often enhanced in NSCLCs compared to lungs. They also indicate that XIAP does not frequently and effectively suppress the activity of apoptosome apparatus in NSCLCs.International Journal of Oncology 03/2014; 44(5). DOI:10.3892/ijo.2014.2333 · 2.77 Impact Factor