Ameeta Kelekar

University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, United States

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Publications (39)283.76 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: PHLPP2, a member of the PH-domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase (PHLPP) family, which targets oncogenic kinases, has been actively investigated as a tumor suppressor in solid tumors. Little is known, however, regarding its regulation in hematological malignancies. We observed that PHLPP2 protein expression, but not its mRNA, was suppressed in late differentiation stage acute myeloid leukemia (AML) subtypes. MicroRNAs (miR or miRNAs) from the miR-17-92 cluster, oncomir-1, were shown to inhibit PHLPP2 expression and these miRNAs were highly expressed in AML cells that lacked PHLPP2 protein. Studies showed that miR-17-92 cluster regulation was, surprisingly, independent of transcription factors c-MYC and E2F in these cells; instead all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA), a drug used for terminally differentiating AML subtypes, markedly suppressed miR-17-92 expression and increased PHLPP2 protein levels and phosphatase activity. Finally, we demonstrate that the effect of ATRA on miR-17-92 expression is mediated through its target, transcription factor C/EBPβ, which interacts with the intronic promoter of the miR-17-92 gene to inhibit transactivation of the cluster. These studies reveal a novel mechanism for upregulation of the phosphatase activity of PHLPP2 through C/EBPβ-mediated repression of the miR-17-92 cluster in terminally differentiating myeloid cells.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 12 February 2016; doi:10.1038/cdd.2016.1.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Cell death and differentiation

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We showed previously that phosphorylation of Noxa, a 54-residue Bcl-2 protein, at serine 13 (Ser13) inhibited its ability to promote apoptosis through interactions with canonical binding partner, Mcl-1. Using EPR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and binding assays, we offer evidence that a structural alteration caused by phosphorylation partially masks Noxa's BH3 domain, inhibiting the Noxa-Mcl-1 interaction. EPR of unphosphorylated Noxa, with spin-labeled amino acid TOAC incorporated within the BH3 domain, revealed equilibrium between ordered and dynamically disordered states. Mcl-1 further restricted the ordered component for non-phosphorylated Noxa, but left the pSer13 Noxa profile unchanged. Microsecond MD simulations indicated that the BH3 domain of unphosphorylated Noxa is housed within a flexible loop connecting two antiparallel β-sheets, flanked by disordered N- and C-termini and Ser13 phosphorylation creates a network of salt-bridges that facilitate the interaction between the N-terminus and the BH3 domain. EPR showed that a spin label inserted near the N-terminus was weakly immobilized in unphosphorylated Noxa, consistent with a solvent-exposed helix/loop, but strongly constrained in pSer13 Noxa, indicating a more ordered peptide backbone, as predicted by MD simulations. Together these studies reveal a novel mechanism by which phosphorylation of a distal serine inhibits a pro-apoptotic BH3 domain and promotes cell survival.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Scientific Reports

  • No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Cancer Research
  • Jeffrey S. Gaynes · Eric A. Hanse · Ameeta Kelekar

    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Cancer Research
  • L. Michel Espinoza-Fonseca · Ameeta Kelekar
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    ABSTRACT: High-resolution characterization of the structure and dynamics of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) remains a challenging task. Consequently, a detailed understanding of the structural and functional features of IDPs remains limited, as very few full-length disordered proteins have been structurally characterized. We have performed microsecond-long molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of Noxa, the smallest member of the large Bcl-2 family of apoptosis regulating proteins, to characterize in atomic-level detail the structural features of a disordered protein. A 2.5-μs MD simulation starting from an unfolded state of the protein revealed the formation of a central antiparallel β-sheet structure flanked by two disordered segments at the N- and C-terminal ends. This topology is in reasonable agreement with protein disorder predictions and available experimental data. We show that this fold plays an essential role in the intracellular function and regulation of Noxa. We demonstrate that unbiased MD simulations in combination with a modern force field reveal structural and functional features of disordered proteins at atomic-level resolution.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Molecular BioSystems

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: Research in autophagy continues to accelerate,(1) and as a result many new scientists are entering the field. Accordingly, it is important to establish a standard set of criteria for monitoring macroautophagy in different organisms. Recent reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose.(2,3) There are many useful and convenient methods that can be used to monitor macroautophagy in yeast, but relatively few in other model systems, and there is much confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure macroautophagy in higher eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers of autophagosomes versus those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway; thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from fully functional autophagy that includes delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of the methods that can be used by investigators who are attempting to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as by reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that investigate these processes. This set of guidelines is not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to verify an autophagic response.
    Full-text · Dataset · Dec 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major hurdle in the treatment of cancer and there is a pressing need for new therapies. We have recently developed ethyl 2-amino-6-(3,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-4-(2-ethoxy-2-oxoethyl)-4H-chromene-3-carboxylate (CXL017), derived from a dual inhibitor of Bcl-2 and SERCA proteins - sHA 14-1, with selective cytotoxicity towards MDR cancer cell lines in vitro. In this study, we present new evidence for its therapeutic potential in treatment of MDR cancers and offer mechanistic insights towards its preferential targeting of drug resistant cancer. CXL017 selectively suppressed the growth of tumors derived from the MDR cancer cell line, HL60/MX2, in vivo. In addition, even after chronic exposure to CXL017, HL60/MX2 failed to develop stable resistance to CXL017, whereas it acquired > 2000-fold resistance to cytarabine (Ara-C) - the major first-line chemotherapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Remarkably, instead of acquiring further cross-resistance, HL60/MX2 cells exposed to CXL017 were re-sensitized to standard therapies (10 to 100-fold). Western blotting analyses revealed that CXL017 exposure significantly down-regulated Mcl-1 and Bax and up-regulated Noxa, Bim, Bcl-XL, SERCA2, and SERCA3 proteins, along with a reduction in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium content. Given the well-established functions of Bcl-2 family proteins and ER calcium in drug resistance, our results suggest that the down-regulation of Mcl-1 and the up-regulation of Noxa and Bim along with the decrease in ER calcium content are likely responsible for CXL017 induced re-sensitization of MDR cancer cells. These data also demonstrate the unique potential of CXL017 to overcome MDR in cancer treatment.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · ACS Chemical Biology
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    ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Autophagy
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    ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Autophagy
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process versus those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process);5,6 thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Autophagy
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Autophagy
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have implicated multipotential mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as an aid to breast cancer cell proliferation and metastasis, partly as a result of the MSCs secretome. As the tumor gets beyond 2 mm in diameter, the stromal cells could undergo starvation due to the lack of sufficient nutrients in solid tumor microenvironment. In this study, we investigated the survival mechanisms used by stressed stromal cells in breast cancers. We used serum-deprived mesenchymal stem cells (SD-MSCs) and MCF-7 breast cancer cells as model system with a hypothesis that stromal cells in the nutrient-deprived core utilize survival mechanisms for supporting surrounding cells. We tested this hypothesis using in vivo tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice, which indicated that SD-MSCs supported MCF-7 tumor growth by protection from apoptosis. Histochemical assays showed that SD-MSCs-injected tumors exhibited higher cellularity, decreased apoptosis and decreased differentiation. Beclin-1 staining indicated autophagic areas surrounded by actively proliferating cells. Furthermore, in vitro studies demonstrate that SD-MSCs survive using autophagy and secrete paracrine factors that support tumor cells following nutrient/serum deprivation. Western blot and immunocytochemistry analysis of SD-MSCs demonstrated upregulation and perinuclear relocation of autophagy key regulators such as beclin-1, ATG10, ATG12, MAP-LC3 and lysosomes. Electron microscopic analysis detected a time-dependent increase in autophagosome formation and HDAC6 activity assays indicated the upregulation of autophagy. Taken together, these data suggest that under nutrient-deprived conditions that can occur in solid tumors, stromal cells utilize autophagy for survival and also secrete anti-apoptotic factors that can facilitate solid tumor survival and growth.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Carcinogenesis
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    ABSTRACT: The BH3-only protein, Noxa, is induced in response to apoptotic stimuli, such as DNA damage, hypoxia, and proteasome inhibition in most human cells. Noxa is constitutively expressed in proliferating cells of hematopoietic lineage and required for apoptosis in response to glucose stress. We show that Noxa is phosphorylated on a serine residue (S(13)) in the presence of glucose. Phosphorylation promotes its cytosolic sequestration and suppresses its apoptotic function. We identify Cdk5 as the Noxa kinase and show that Cdk5 knockdown or expression of a Noxa S(13) to A mutant increases sensitivity to glucose starvation, confirming that the phosphorylation is protective. Both glucose deprivation and Cdk5 inhibition promote apoptosis by dephosphorylating Noxa. Paradoxically, Noxa stimulates glucose consumption and may enhance glucose turnover via the pentose phosphate pathway rather than through glycolysis. We propose that Noxa plays both growth-promoting and proapoptotic roles in hematopoietic cancers with phospho-S(13) as the glucose-sensitive toggle switch controlling these opposing functions.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Molecular cell
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine the sphingolipid (SL) profile in cells defective in autophagy protein ATG-7 and overall cell death after photodynamic therapy (PDT) with the photosensitizer Pc 4. MCF-7 human breast cancer cells with downregulated ATG-7 and their scrambled controls (Scr) were used. Exposure of ATG-7 knockdown cells to PDT led to increased cell killing. PDT evoked an early (2h) greater global increase in ceramides in ATG-7 defective cells compared to Scr cells. The total increases in dihydroceramide (DHceramide) were significant at 2 and 24h in both cell types post-PDT. The levels of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and sphingosine were decreased below resting levels at both time points irrespective of the cell type. The data imply that ceramide might be a marker of ATG-7 deficiency in cells sensitized to PDT.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2009 · Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Previously we reported that serum leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein-1 (LRG) binds cytochrome c (Cyt c; Cummings et al., Apoptosis 11:1121-1129, 2009). Here we show that LRG binding to Cyt c is similar to that of Apaf-1. LRG and Apaf-1 share partial amino acid sequences, compete for binding Cyt c, and are inhibited by modification at lysine 72 in Cyt c. However, in contrast to Apaf-1, LRG acts as a survival factor in vitro rather than a pro-apoptotic factor. By depleting LRG from culture medium we found that LRG protects against a toxic effect of exogenous Cyt c on lymphocytes that would otherwise result in an apoptotic phenotype. LRG, as well as antibodies specific for Cyt c, increased cell viability in the absence of added Cyt c indicating that Cyt c released by dying cells in the cultures is itself toxic. Protection from extracellular Cyt c-induced lymphotoxicity appears to involve an active mechanism rather than steric hindrance of Cyt c. Thus, serum LRG when bound to extracellular Cyt c that is released from apoptotic cells acts as a survival factor for lymphocytes and possibly other cells that are susceptible to the toxic effect of extracellular Cyt c.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2009 · Apoptosis
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to determine the sphingolipid (SL) profile in autophagy-defective cells and overall cell death after PDT with Pc 4 (PDT). Human breast cancer MCF-7 cells with downregulated autophagy protein ATG-7 and their scrambled controls (Scr) were used. Exposure of ATG-7 knockdown cells to PDT led to defective processing of the autophagy marker LC3, and increased overall cell killing. In both cell types PDT evoked an early (2 h) increase in ceramides and dihydroceramides (DHceramides). When the two cell types were compared regarding time (2 and 24 h) and treatment conditions (with and without PDT), the levels of several ceramides and DHceramides were reduced, whereas the concentrations of C14-ceramide, C16-ceramide and C12-DHceramide were higher in ATG-7 knockdown cells. The data imply that the SL profile might be a marker of autophagy-deficiency in cells sensitized to PDT.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2009 · Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
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    ABSTRACT: Endostatin is a well-characterized endogenous inhibitor of angiogenesis that affects cell proliferation and migration by inhibiting integrin and Wnt-mediated signalling pathways. Here, we show that endothelial cells treated with native and P125A-endostatin activate autophagy. Because autophagy can either be protective or induce programmed cell death, experiments were carried out to understand the signalling pathways leading to autophagy in endothelial cells. P125A-endostatin treatment increased the levels of Beclin 1, a crucial molecule in vesicle nucleation and autophagy. The treatment also reduced the levels of Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L) and beta-catenin; however, progressively increasing amounts of Bcl-2 and Bcl-x(L) were found to be complexed with Beclin 1. Increased beta-catenin and Wnt-mediated signalling reduced Beclin 1 levels and rescued endothelial cells from endostatin-induced autophagy. Finally, knocking down Beclin 1 levels by RNA interference decreased autophagy and accelerated caspase activation in endostatin-treated cells. These studies suggest that endothelial cells may initiate autophagy as a survival response to limit the effects of angiogenesis inhibitors. Thus, interfering with autophagy can potentiate the effects of endostatin by promoting a switch to apoptosis.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2009 · Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies from our laboratory had indicated that cytochrome c-independent processing and activation of caspase-9 by caspase-8 contributed to early amplification of the caspase cascade in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-treated murine cells. Here we show that murine caspase-9 is phosphorylated by casein kinase 2 (CK2) on a serine near the site of caspase-8 cleavage. CK2 has been shown to regulate cleavage of the pro-apoptotic Bid protein by phosphorylating serine residues near its caspase-8 cleavage site. Similarly, CK2 modification of Ser348 on caspase-9 appears to render the protease refractory to cleavage by active caspase-8. This phosphorylation did not affect the ability of caspase-9 to autoprocess. Substitution of Ser348 abolished phosphorylation but not cleavage, and a phospho-site mutant promoted apoptosis in TNF-α-treated caspase-9 knock-out mouse embryo fibroblasts. Furthermore, inhibition of CK2 activity and RNA interference-mediated knockdown of the kinase accelerated caspase-9 activation, whereas phosphatase inhibition delayed both caspase-9 activation and death in response to TNF receptor occupation. Taken together, these studies show that TNF receptor cross-linking promotes dephosphorylation of caspase-9, rendering it susceptible to processing by activated caspase-8 protein. Thus, our data suggest that modification of procaspase-9 to protect it from inappropriate cleavage and activation is yet another mechanism by which the oncogenic kinase CK2 promotes survival.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008 · Journal of Biological Chemistry

Publication Stats

6k Citations
283.76 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003-2015
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
      • Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
      Duluth, Minnesota, United States
  • 2012
    • University of Michigan
      • Life Sciences Institute
      Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 1998-2001
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
  • 1999
    • University of Chicago
      • Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research
      Chicago, Illinois, United States