Molecular evidence of Zn chelation of the procaspase activating compound B-PAC-1 in B cell lymphoma

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The resistance of apoptosis in cancer cells is pivotal for their survival and is typically ruled by mutations or dysregulation of core apoptotic cascade. Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a non-Hodgkin's B-cell malignancy expressing higher antiapoptotic proteins providing survival advantage. B-PAC-1, a procaspase activating compound, induces apoptosis by sequestering Zn bound to procaspase-3, but the amino acids holding Zn in Caspase-3 is not known. Here we show that reintroduction of WT caspase-3 or 7 in Caspase3-7 double knock-out (DKO) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) promoted B-PAC-1 to induce apoptosis (27-43%), but not in DKO MEFs or MEFs expressing respective Casp3-7 catalytic mutants (12-13%). Using caspase-6 and -9 exosite analysis, we identified and mutated predicted Zn-ligands in caspase-3 (H108A, C148S and E272A) and overexpressed into DKO MEFs. Mutants carrying E272A abrogated Zn-reversal of apoptosis induced by B-PAC-1 via higher XIAP and smac expressions but not in H108A or C148S mutants. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis revealed stronger XIAP-caspase-3 interaction suggesting a novel mechanism of impulsive apoptosis resistance by disrupting predicted Zn-ligands in caspase-3. B-PAC-1 sponsored apoptosis in MCL cell lines (30-73%) via caspase-3 and PARP cleavages accompanied by loss of Mcl-1 and IAPs including XIAP while Zn substantially abrogated B-PAC-1-driven apoptosis (18-36%). In contrary, Zn is dispensable to inhibit staurosporin, bendamustine, ABT199 or MK206-induced apoptosis. Consistent to cell lines, B-PAC-1 stimulated cell death in primary B-lymphoma cells via caspase-3 cleavage with decline in both Mcl-1 and XIAP. This study underscores the first genetic evidence that B-PAC-1 driven apoptosis is mediated via Zn chelation.




Sarkar, A., Balakrishnan, K., Chen, J., Patel, V., Neelapu, S. S., McMurray, J. S., & Gandhi, V. (2016). Molecular evidence of Zn chelation of the procaspase activating compound B-PAC-1 in B cell lymphoma. Oncotarget, 7(3), 3461–3476.

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