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Critical function of endogenous XIAP in regulating caspase activation during sympathetic neuronal apoptosis.

Potts P.R., Singh S., Knezek M., Thompson C.B., Deshmukh M.

In sympathetic neurons, unlike most nonneuronal cells, growth factor withdrawal-induced apoptosis requires the development of competence in addition to cytochrome c release to activate caspases. Thus, although most nonneuronal cells die rapidly with cytosolic cytochrome c alone, sympathetic neurons are remarkably resistant unless they develop competence. We have identified endogenous X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) as the essential postcytochrome c regulator of caspase activation in these neurons. In contrast to wild-type neurons that are resistant to injection of cytochrome c, XIAP-deficient neurons died rapidly with cytosolic cytochrome c alone. Surprisingly, the release of endogenous Smac was not sufficient to overcome the XIAP resistance in sympathetic neurons. In contrast, the neuronal competence pathway permitted cytochrome c to activate caspases by inducing a marked reduction in XIAP levels in these neurons. Thus, the removal of XIAP inhibition appears both necessary and sufficient for cytochrome c to activate caspases in sympathetic neurons. These data identify a critical function of endogenous XIAP in regulating apoptosis in mammalian cells.

J. Cell Biol. 163:789-799(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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