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

Zhang H1, Gogada R, Yadav N, Lella RK, Badeaux M, Ayres M, Gandhi V, Tang DG, Chandra D.
Source: PLoS ONE
Publication Date: (2011)
Issue: 6(1): e16379
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Epithelial, prostate (PrEC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: prostate
Epithelial, mammary, human (HMEC)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: breast
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.