Research Article

Distinctive Roles of PHAP Proteins and Prothymosin-α in a Death Regulatory Pathway

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Science  10 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5604, pp. 223-226
DOI: 10.1126/science.1076807

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A small molecule, α-(trichloromethyl)-4-pyridineethanol (PETCM), was identified by high-throughput screening as an activator of caspase-3 in extracts of a panel of cancer cells. PETCM was used in combination with biochemical fractionation to identify a pathway that regulates mitochondria-initiated caspase activation. This pathway consists of tumor suppressor putative HLA-DR–associated proteins (PHAP) and oncoprotein prothymosin-α (ProT). PHAP proteins promoted caspase-9 activation after apoptosome formation, whereas ProT negatively regulated caspase-9 activation by inhibiting apoptosome formation. PETCM relieved ProT inhibition and allowed apoptosome formation at a physiological concentration of deoxyadenosine triphosphate. Elimination of ProT expression by RNA interference sensitized cells to ultraviolet irradiation–induced apoptosis and negated the requirement of PETCM for caspase activation. Thus, this chemical-biological combinatory approach has revealed the regulatory roles of oncoprotein ProT and tumor suppressor PHAP in apoptosis.

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