Caspase-2 is an initiating caspase required for stress-induced apoptosis in various human cancer cells. Recent studies suggest that it can mediate the death function of tumor suppressor p53 and is activated by a multimeric protein complex, PIDDosome. However, it is not clear how caspase-2 exerts its apoptotic function in cells and whether its enzymatic activity is required for the apoptotic function. In this study, we used both in vitro mitochondrial cytochrome c release assays and cell culture apoptosis analyses to investigate the mechanism by which caspase-2 induces apoptosis. We show that active caspase-2, but neither a catalytically mutated caspase-2 nor active caspase-2 with its inhibitor, can cause cytochrome c release. Caspase-2 failed to induce cytochrome c release from mitochondria with Bid-/- background, and the release could be restored by addition of the wild-type Bid protein, but not by Bid with the caspase-2 cleavage site mutated. Caspase-2 was not able to induce cytochrome c release from Bax-/-Bak-/- mitochondria either. In cultured cells, gene deletion of Bax/Bak or Bid abrogated apoptosis induced by overexpression of caspase-2. Collectively, these results indicate that proteolytic activation of Bid and the subsequent induction of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway through Bax/Bak is essential for apoptosis triggered by caspase-2.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology