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Caspase-2 primes cancer cells for TRAIL-mediated apoptosis by processing procaspase-8.

Shin S., Lee Y., Kim W., Ko H., Choi H., Kim K.

Although caspase-2 is believed to be involved in death receptor-mediated apoptosis, the exact function, mode of activation, and regulation of caspase-2 remain unknown. Here we show that protein kinase (PK) CK2 phosphorylates procaspase-2 directly at serine-157. When intracellular PKCK2 activity is low or downregulated by specific inhibitors, procaspase-2 is dephosphorylated, dimerized, and activated in a PIDDosome-independent manner. The activated caspase-2 then processes procaspase-8 monomers between the large and small subunits, thereby priming cancer cells for TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis. The processed procaspase-8 that is recruited to death-inducing signaling complex by TRAIL engagement becomes fully activated, and cancer cells undergo apoptosis. PKCK2 activity is low in TRAIL-sensitive cancer cell lines but high in TRAIL-resistant cancer cell lines. Thus, downregulating PKCK2 activity is required for TRAIL-mediated apoptosis to occur in TRAIL-resistant cancer cells. Our data provide novel insights into the regulation, mode of activation, and function of caspase-2 in TRAIL-mediated apoptosis.

EMBO J. 24:3532-3542(2005) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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