Medical Biology - Research Publications

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    In vitro and in vivo assays for osteoclast apoptosis
    Akiyama, T ; Miyazaki, T ; Bouillet, P ; Nakamura, K ; Strasser, A ; Tanaka, S (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2005-05-09)
    Mature osteoclasts, multinucleated giant cells responsible for bone resorption, are terminally differentiated cells with a short life span. Recently, we have demonstrated that osteoclast apoptosis is regulated by ERK activity and Bcl-2 family member Bim. In this paper, we summarize the methods we used to study osteoclast apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Using adenovirus and retrovirus vectors, we were able to introduce foreign genes into osteoclasts and examine their effects on osteoclast survival in vitro. In addition, we established the modified methods for in situ hybridization and BrdU labeling of bone sections from mice to study osteoclast survival in vivo. The detailed methods described here could be useful for studying the biological process in bone.
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    Membrane-bound Fas ligand only is essential for Fas-induced apoptosis
    Reilly, LAO ; Tai, L ; Lee, L ; Kruse, EA ; Grabow, S ; Fairlie, WD ; Haynes, NM ; Tarlinton, DM ; Zhang, J-G ; Belz, GT ; Smyth, MJ ; Bouillet, P ; Robb, L ; Strasser, A (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2009-10-01)
    Fas ligand (FasL), an apoptosis-inducing member of the TNF cytokine family, and its receptor Fas are critical for the shutdown of chronic immune responses and prevention of autoimmunity. Accordingly, mutations in their genes cause severe lymphadenopathy and autoimmune disease in mice and humans. FasL function is regulated by deposition in the plasma membrane and metalloprotease-mediated shedding. Here we generated gene-targeted mice that selectively lack either secreted FasL (sFasL) or membrane-bound FasL (mFasL) to resolve which of these forms is required for cell killing and to explore their hypothesized non-apoptotic activities. Mice lacking sFasL (FasL(Deltas/Deltas)) appeared normal and their T cells readily killed target cells, whereas T cells lacking mFasL (FasL(Deltam/Deltam)) could not kill cells through Fas activation. FasL(Deltam/Deltam) mice developed lymphadenopathy and hyper-gammaglobulinaemia, similar to FasL(gld/gld) mice, which express a mutant form of FasL that cannot bind Fas, but surprisingly, FasL(Deltam/Deltam) mice (on a C57BL/6 background) succumbed to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like autoimmune kidney destruction and histiocytic sarcoma, diseases that occur only rarely and much later in FasL(gld/gld) mice. These results demonstrate that mFasL is essential for cytotoxic activity and constitutes the guardian against lymphadenopathy, autoimmunity and cancer, whereas excess sFasL appears to promote autoimmunity and tumorigenesis through non-apoptotic activities.
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    Loss of the BH3-only protein Bmf impairs B cell homeostasis and accelerates gamma irradiation-induced thymic lymphoma development
    Labi, V ; Erlacher, M ; Kiessling, S ; Manzl, C ; Frenzel, A ; O'Reilly, L ; Strasser, A ; Villunger, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2008-03-17)
    Members of the Bcl-2 protein family play crucial roles in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis by regulating apoptosis in response to developmental cues or exogenous stress. Proapoptotic BH3-only members of the Bcl-2 family are essential for initiation of cell death, and they function by activating the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members Bax and/or Bak, either directly or indirectly through binding to prosurvival Bcl-2 family members. Bax and Bak then elicit the downstream events in apoptosis signaling. Mammals have at least eight BH3-only proteins and they are activated in a stimulus-specific, as well as a cell type-specific, manner. We have generated mice lacking the BH3-only protein Bcl-2-modifying factor (Bmf) to investigate its role in cell death signaling. Our studies reveal that Bmf is dispensable for embryonic development and certain forms of stress-induced apoptosis, including loss of cell attachment (anoikis) or UV irradiation. Remarkably, loss of Bmf protected lymphocytes against apoptosis induced by glucocorticoids or histone deacetylase inhibition. Moreover, bmf(-/-) mice develop a B cell-restricted lymphadenopathy caused by the abnormal resistance of these cells to a range of apoptotic stimuli. Finally, Bmf-deficiency accelerated the development of gamma irradiation-induced thymic lymphomas. Our results demonstrate that Bmf plays a critical role in apoptosis signaling and can function as a tumor suppressor.
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    Gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cell lines expressing mutant EGFR requires BIM and can be enhanced by BH3 mimetics
    Cragg, MS ; Kuroda, J ; Puthalakath, H ; Huang, DCS ; Strasser, A ; Mellinghoff, IK (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2007-10-01)
    BACKGROUND: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a critical role in the control of cellular proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Abnormalities in EGF-EGFR signaling, such as mutations that render the EGFR hyperactive or cause overexpression of the wild-type receptor, have been found in a broad range of cancers, including carcinomas of the lung, breast, and colon. EGFR inhibitors such as gefitinib have proven successful in the treatment of certain cancers, particularly non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harboring activating mutations within the EGFR gene, but the molecular mechanisms leading to tumor regression remain unknown. Therefore, we wished to delineate these mechanisms. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We performed biochemical and genetic studies to investigate the mechanisms by which inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase activity, such as gefitinib, inhibit the growth of human NSCLCs. We found that gefitinib triggered intrinsic (also called "mitochondrial") apoptosis signaling, involving the activation of BAX and mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, ultimately unleashing the caspase cascade. Gefitinib caused a rapid increase in the level of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM (also called BCL2-like 11) through both transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms. Experiments with pharmacological inhibitors indicated that blockade of MEK-ERK1/2 (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase-extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2) signaling, but not blockade of PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase or mitogen-activated protein kinase 8), or AKT (protein kinase B), was critical for BIM activation. Using RNA interference, we demonstrated that BIM is essential for gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells. Moreover, we found that gefitinib-induced apoptosis is enhanced by addition of the BH3 mimetic ABT-737. CONCLUSIONS: Inhibitors of the EGFR tyrosine kinase have proven useful in the therapy of certain cancers, in particular NSCLCs possessing activating mutations in the EGFR kinase domain, but the mechanisms of tumor cell killing are still unclear. In this paper, we demonstrate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for tumor cell killing and that shutdown of the EGFR-MEK-ERK signaling cascade is critical for BIM activation. Moreover, we demonstrate that addition of a BH3 mimetic significantly enhances killing of NSCLC cells by the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. It appears likely that this approach represents a paradigm shared by many, and perhaps all, oncogenic tyrosine kinases and suggests a powerful new strategy for cancer therapy.
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    Ultraviolet radiation triggers apoptosis of fibroblasts and skin keratinocytes mainly via the BH3-only protein Noxa
    Naik, E ; Michalak, EM ; Villunger, A ; Adams, JM ; Strasser, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2007-02-12)
    To identify the mechanisms of ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced cell death, for which the tumor suppressor p53 is essential, we have analyzed mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and keratinocytes in mouse skin that have specific apoptotic pathways blocked genetically. Blocking the death receptor pathway provided no protection to MEFs, whereas UVR-induced apoptosis was potently inhibited by Bcl-2 overexpression, implicating the mitochondrial pathway. Indeed, Bcl-2 overexpression boosted cell survival more than p53 loss, revealing a p53-independent pathway controlled by the Bcl-2 family. Analysis of primary MEFs lacking individual members of its BH3-only subfamily identified major initiating roles for the p53 targets Noxa and Puma. In the transformed derivatives, where Puma, unexpectedly, was not induced by UVR, Noxa had the dominant role and Bim a minor role. Furthermore, loss of Noxa suppressed the formation of apoptotic keratinocytes in the skin of UV-irradiated mice. Collectively, these results demonstrate that UVR activates the Bcl-2-regulated apoptotic pathway predominantly through activation of Noxa and, depending on cellular context, Puma.
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    Loss of Bim increases T cell production and function in interleukin 7 receptor-deficient mice
    Pellegrini, M ; Bouillet, P ; Robati, M ; Belz, GT ; Davey, GM ; Strasser, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2004-11-01)
    Interleukin (IL)-7 receptor (R) signaling is essential for T and B lymphopoiesis by promoting proliferation, differentiation, and survival of cells. Mice lacking either IL-7 or the IL-7Ralpha chain have abnormally low numbers of immature as well as mature T and B lymphocytes. Transgenic expression of the apoptosis inhibitor Bcl-2 rescues T cell development and function in IL-7Ralpha-deficient mice, indicating that activation of a proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member causes death of immature and mature T cells. BH3-only proteins such as Bim, which are distant proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, are essential initiators of programmed cell death and stress-induced apoptosis. We generated Bim/IL-7Ralpha double deficient mice and found that loss of Bim significantly increased thymocyte numbers, restored near normal numbers of mature T cells in the blood and spleen, and enhanced cytotoxic T cell responses to virus infection in IL-7Ralpha-/- mice. These results indicate that Bim cooperates with other proapoptotic proteins in the death of IL-7-deprived T cell progenitors in vivo, but is the major inducer of this pathway to apoptosis in mature T cells. This indicates that pharmacological inhibition of Bim function might be useful for boosting immune responses in immunodeficient patients.
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    Combined loss of proapoptotic genes Bak or Bax with Bim synergizes to cause defects in hematopoiesis and in thymocyte apoptosis
    Hutcheson, J ; Scatizzi, JC ; Bickel, E ; Brown, NJ ; Bouillet, P ; Strasser, A ; Perlman, H (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2005-06-20)
    The proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family can be subdivided into members that contain several Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains and those that contain only the BH3 domain. Although it is known that BH3-only proteins and the multi-BH domain proteins, Bak and Bax, are essential for programmed cell death, the overlapping role of these two subgroups has not been examined in vivo. To investigate this, we generated Bak/Bim and Bax/Bim double deficient mice. We found that although Bax-/-Bim-/-, but not Bak-/-Bim-/-, mice display webbed hind and front paws and malocclusion of the incisors, both groups of mice present with dysregulated hematopoiesis. Combined loss of Bak and Bim or Bax and Bim causes defects in myeloid and B-lymphoid development that are more severe than those found in the single knock-out mice. Bak-/-Bim-/- mice have a complement of thymocytes that resembles those in control mice, whereas Bax-/-Bim-/- mice are more similar to Bim-/- mice. However, thymocytes isolated from Bak-/-Bim-/- or Bax-/-Bim-/- mice are markedly more resistant to apoptotic stimuli mediated by the intrinsic pathway as compared with thymocytes from single-knockout mice. These data suggest an essential overlapping role for Bak or Bax and Bim in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway.
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    Loss of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only Bcl-2 family member Bim inhibits BCR stimulation-induced apoptosis and deletion of autoreactive B cells
    Enders, A ; Bouillet, P ; Puthalakath, H ; Xu, YK ; Tarlinton, DM ; Strasser, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2003-10-06)
    During development, the stochastic process assembling the genes encoding antigen receptors invariably generates B and T lymphocytes that can recognize self-antigens. Several mechanisms have evolved to prevent the activation of these cells and the concomitant development of autoimmune disease. One such mechanism is the induction of apoptosis in developing or mature B cells by engagement of the B cell antigen receptor (BCR) in the absence of T cell help. Here we report that B lymphocytes lacking the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim are refractory to apoptosis induced by BCR ligation in vitro. The loss of Bim also inhibited deletion of autoreactive B cells in vivo in two transgenic systems of B cell tolerance. Bim loss prevented deletion of autoreactive B cells induced by soluble self-antigen and promoted accumulation of self-reactive B cells developing in the presence of membrane-bound self-antigen, although their numbers were considerably lower compared with antigen-free mice. Mechanistically, we determined that BCR ligation promoted interaction of Bim with Bcl-2, inhibiting its survival function. These findings demonstrate that Bim is a critical player in BCR-mediated apoptosis and in B lymphocyte deletion.
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    Bcl-2-regulated apoptosis and cytochrome c release can occur independently of both caspase-2 and caspase-9
    Marsden, VS ; Ekert, PG ; Van Delft, M ; Vaux, DL ; Adams, JM ; Strasser, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2004-06-21)
    Apoptosis in response to developmental cues and stress stimuli is mediated by caspases that are regulated by the Bcl-2 protein family. Although caspases 2 and 9 have each been proposed as the apical caspase in that pathway, neither is indispensable for the apoptosis of leukocytes or fibroblasts. To investigate whether these caspases share a redundant role in apoptosis initiation, we generated caspase-2(-/-)9(-/-) mice. Their overt phenotype, embryonic brain malformation and perinatal lethality mirrored that of caspase-9(-/-) mice but were not exacerbated. Analysis of adult mice reconstituted with caspase-2(-/-)9(-/-) hematopoietic cells revealed that the absence of both caspases did not influence hematopoietic development. Furthermore, lymphocytes and fibroblasts lacking both remained sensitive to diverse apoptotic stimuli. Dying caspase-2(-/-)9(-/-) lymphocytes displayed multiple hallmarks of caspase-dependent apoptosis, including the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, and their demise was antagonized by several caspase inhibitors. These findings suggest that caspases other than caspases 2 and 9 can promote cytochrome c release and initiate Bcl-2-regulated apoptosis.
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    Puma cooperates with Bim, the rate-limiting BH3-only protein in cell death during lymphocyte development, in apoptosis induction
    Erlacher, M ; Labi, V ; Manzl, C ; Boeck, G ; Tzankov, A ; Haecker, G ; Michalak, E ; Strasser, A ; Villunger, A (ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2006-12-25)
    The physiological role of B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) homology 3-only proteins has been investigated in mice lacking the individual genes identifying rate-limiting roles for Bim (Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death) and Puma (p53-up-regulated modulator of apoptosis) in apoptosis induction. The loss of Bim protects lymphocytes from apoptosis induced by cytokine deprivation and deregulated Ca++ flux and interferes with the deletion of autoreactive lymphocytes and the shutdown of immune responses. In contrast, Puma is considered the key mediator of p53-induced apoptosis. To investigate the hypothesis that Bim and Puma have overlapping functions, we generated mice lacking both genes and found that bim-/-/puma-/- animals develop multiple postnatal defects that are not observed in the single knockout mice. Most strikingly, hyperplasia of lymphatic organs is comparable with that observed in mice overexpressing Bcl-2 in all hemopoietic cells exceeding the hyperplasia observed in bim-/- mice. Bim and Puma also have clearly overlapping functions in p53-dependent and -independent apoptosis. Their combined loss promotes spontaneous tumorigenesis, causing the malignancies observed in Bcl-2 transgenic mice, but does not exacerbate the autoimmunity observed in the absence of Bim.