Disruption of MCL-1/BIM complex in granzyme B-mediated mitochondrial apoptosis

Han J, Goldstein LA, Gastman BR, Rabinovitz A and Rabinowich H
Source: J Biol Chem
Publication Date: (2005)
Issue: 280(16): 16383-16392
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
HCT 116
Species: human
Tissue Origin: colon
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
Recently, we reported the identification of a novel mitochondrial apoptotic pathway for granzyme B (GrB) (JBC, 279:20020, 2004). The newly identified GrB-mediated mitochondrial cascade was initiated by the cleavage and subsequent degradation of Mcl-1, resulting in the release of mitochondrial Bim from Mcl-1 sequestration. To investigate the biological significance of Mcl-1 cleavage by GrB, we mapped the major GrB cleavage sites and evaluated the apoptotic potential of the cleavage products. GrB cleaves Mcl-1 after Aspartic acid residues 117, 127 and 157 generating C-terminal fragments that each contains BH-1, BH-2, BH-3 and TM domains. These fragments accumulate at an early apoptotic phase, but are eliminated by further degradation during the apoptotic process. The major Mcl-1 C-terminal fragment generated by GrB (residues 118-350) was unable to induce or enhance apoptosis when transfected into tumor cells. Instead, this Mcl-1 C-terminal fragment maintained a partial protective capability against GrB-mediated apoptosis via its lower affinity to Bim. In comparison with ectopically expressed full-length Mcl-1, the stably transfected C-terminal fragments of Mcl-1 were less efficiently localized to the mitochondria. Knockdown of Mcl-1, as achieved by transfection with Mcl-1 specific siRNA, resulted in a significant level of apoptosis in the absence of external apoptotic stimulation, and in addition, enhanced the susceptibility of breast carcinoma cells to GrB cytotoxicity. The significance of Bim in this GrB apoptotic cascade was indicated by the marked protection against GrB-mediated apoptosis endowed on these cells through Bim knockdown. Our studies suggest that the disruption of the Mcl-1/Bim complex by GrB initiates a major Bim-mediated cellular cytotoxic mechanism that requires the elimination of Mcl-1 following its initial cleavage.