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Death receptor-induced activation of initiator caspase 8 is antagonized by serine/threonine kinase PAK4.

Gnesutta N., Minden A.

Normal cell growth requires a precisely controlled balance between cell death and survival. This involves activation of different types of intracellular signaling cascades within the cell. While some types of signaling proteins regulate apoptosis, or programmed cell death, other proteins within the cell can promote survival. The serine/threonine kinase PAK4 can protect cells from apoptosis in response to several different types of stimuli. As is the case for other members of the p21-activated kinase (PAK) family, one way that PAK4 may promote cell survival is by phosphorylating and thereby inhibiting the proapoptotic protein Bad. This leads in turn to the inhibition of effector caspases such as caspase 3. Here we show that in response to cytokines which activate death domain-containing receptors, such as the tumor necrosis factor and Fas receptors, PAK4 can inhibit the death signal by a different mechanism. Under these conditions, PAK4 inhibits apoptosis early in the caspase cascade, antagonizing the activation of initiator caspase 8. This inhibition, which does not require PAK4's kinase activity, may involve inhibition of caspase 8 recruitment to the death domain receptors. This role in regulating initiator caspases is an entirely novel role for the PAK proteins and suggests a new mechanism by which these proteins promote cell survival.

Mol. Cell. Biol. 23:7838-7848(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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