Defective molecular timer in the absence of nucleotides leads to inefficient caspase activation

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Abstract

In the intrinsic death pathway, cytochrome C (CC) released from mitochondria to the cytosol triggers Apaf-1 apoptosome formation and subsequent caspase activation. This process can be recapitulated using recombinant Apaf-1 and CC in the presence of nucleotides ATP or dATP [(d)ATP] or using fresh cytosol and CC without the need of exogenous nucleotides. Surprisingly, we found that stored cytosols failed to support CC-initiated caspase activation. Storage of cytosols at different temperatures led to the loss of all (deoxy)nucleotides including (d)ATP. Addition of (d)ATP to such stored cytosols partially restored CC-initiated caspase activation. Nevertheless, CC could not induce complete caspase-9/3 activation in stored cytosols, even with the addition of (d)ATP, despite robust Apaf-1 oligomerization. The Apaf-1 apoptosome, which functions as a proteolytic-based molecular timer appeared to be defective as auto-processing of recruited procaspase-9 was inhibited. Far Western analysis revealed that procaspase-9 directly interacted with Apaf-1 and this interaction was reduced in the presence of physiological levels of ATP. Co-incubation of recombinant Apaf-1 and procaspase-9 prior to CC and ATP addition inhibited CC-induced caspase activity. These findings suggest that in the absence of nucleotide such as ATP, direct association of procaspase-9 with Apaf-1 leads to defective molecular timer, and thus, inhibits apoptosome-mediated caspase activation. Altogether, our results provide novel insight on nucleotide regulation of apoptosome. © 2011 Zhang et al.

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Zhang, H., Gogada, R., Yadav, N., Lella, R. K., Badeaux, M., Ayres, M., … Chandra, D. (2011). Defective molecular timer in the absence of nucleotides leads to inefficient caspase activation. PLoS ONE, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016379

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