The intrinsic apoptosis apparatus plays a significant role in generating and amplifying cell death signals. In this study we examined whether there are differences in the expression of its components and in its functioning in nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) and the lung. We show that NSCLC cell lines express Apaf-1 and procaspase-9 and -3 proteins and that the expression of Apaf-1 and procaspase-3, but not of procaspase-9 and -7, is frequently upregulated in NSCLC tissues as compared to the lung. NSCLC tissues and lungs and some NSCLC cell lines expressed also caspase-9S(b) and displayed a high caspase-9S(b)/procaspase-9 expression ratio. Procaspase-3 from NSCLCs and lungs was readily processed to caspase-3 by granzyme B or caspase-8, and the granzyme Bgenerated caspase-3-like activity was significantly higher in tumor tissues and cells than in lungs. By contrast, cytochrome c plus dATP could induce a significant increase of caspase-3-like activity in cytosol only in some NSCLC cell lines and in subsets of studied NSCLC tissues and lungs, while procaspase-3 and -7 were detectably processed only in NSCLC tissues which showed a high (cytochrome c+dATP)-induced caspase-3-like activity. Taken together, the present study provides evidence that the expression of Apaf-1 and procaspase 3 is up-regulated in NSCLCs and indicates that the tumors have a capability to suppress the apoptosome-driven caspase activation in their cytosol.
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