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Concept: Anoikis



Whether responses of cells to extracellular environments affect the induction of apoptotic cell death is poorly understood. The current study aimed to unravel the different effects of culture media employed in vitro as extracellular environments on the susceptibility of cells to apoptosis. We found that apoptosis is stimulated to the higher levels by culturing human HeLa cells in Opti-MEM with unknown components, a medium that is specifically used for transfections, than by culturing cells in Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium, a medium that is generally used for maintenance of cells. We showed that apoptosis is suppressed partially by culturing cells in heat-treated Opti-MEM, implicating a heat-sensitive component(s) in stimulating the apoptotic response of cells. Thus, different extracellular environments may contribute to different responses of cells to apoptosis, and this should be considered to evaluate the incidences of apoptotic cell death and could be applied to develop an efficient treatment for curing diseases such as cancer.

Concepts: Cancer, Death, Apoptosis, Cell culture, Programmed cell death, Vesicle, Caspase, Anoikis


We demonstrate that cortical interneurons derived from ventral eminences, including the caudal ganglionic eminence, undergo programmed cell death. Moreover, with the exception of VIP interneurons, this occurs in a manner that is activity-dependent. In addition, we demonstrate that, within interneurons, Calcineurin, a calcium-dependent protein phosphatase, plays a critical role in sequentially linking activity to maturation (E15-P5) and survival (P5-P20). Specifically, embryonic inactivation of Calcineurin results in a failure of interneurons to morphologically mature and prevents them from undergoing apoptosis. By contrast, early postnatal inactivation of Calcineurin increases apoptosis. We conclude that Calcineurin serves a dual role of promoting first the differentiation of interneurons and, subsequently, their survival.

Concepts: Enzyme, Apoptosis, Prokaryote, Programmed cell death, Caspase, Phosphatase, Calcineurin, Anoikis


Apoptosis has been implicated in compensatory proliferation signaling (CPS), whereby dying cells induce proliferation in neighboring cells as a means to restore homeostasis. The nature of signaling between apoptotic cells and their neighboring cells remains largely unknown. Here we show that a fraction of apoptotic cells produce and release CrkI-containing microvesicles (distinct from exosomes and apoptotic bodies), which induce proliferation in neighboring cells upon contact. We provide visual evidence of CPS by videomicroscopy. We show that purified vesicles in vitro and in vivo are sufficient to stimulate proliferation in other cells. Our data demonstrate that CrkI inactivation by ExoT bacterial toxin or by mutagenesis blocks vesicle formation in apoptotic cells and inhibits CPS, thus uncoupling apoptosis from CPS. We further show that c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) plays a pivotal role in mediating vesicle-induced CPS in recipient cells. CPS could have important ramifications in diseases that involve apoptotic cell death.

Concepts: Immune system, Signal transduction, Death, Apoptosis, Programmed cell death, Vesicle, Caspase, Anoikis


Synaptic activity increases the resistance of neurons to diverse apoptotic insults; however, the underlying mechanisms remain less well understood. Zinc promotes cell survival under varied conditions, but the role of synaptically released zinc in the activity-dependent anti-apoptotic effect is unknown. Using cultured hippocampal slices and primary neurons we show that a typical apoptosis inducer-staurosporine (STP) was able to cause concentration-dependent apoptotic cell death in brain slices; Enhanced synaptic activity by bicuculline (Bic)/4-Aminopyridine (AP) treatment effectively prevented neurons from STP-induced cell apoptosis, as indicated by increased cell survival and suppressed caspase-3 activity. Application of Ca-EDTA, a cell membrane-impermeable zinc chelator which can efficiently capture the synaptically released zinc, completely blocked the neuronal activity-dependent anti-apoptotic effect. Same results were also observed in cultured primary hippocampal neurons. Therefore, our results indicate that synaptic activity improves neuronal resistance to apoptosis via synaptically released zinc.

Concepts: Brain, Apoptosis, Membrane potential, Programmed cell death, Caspase, XIAP, Anoikis


Inflammatory and apoptotic caspases are central players in inflammation and apoptosis, respectively. However, recent studies have revealed that these caspases have functions beyond their established roles. In addition to mediating cleavage of the inflammasome-associated cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18, inflammatory caspases modulate distinct forms of programmed cell death and coordinate cell-autonomous immunity and other fundamental cellular processes. Certain apoptotic caspases assemble structurally diverse and dynamic complexes that direct inflammasome and interferon responses to fine-tune inflammation. In this Review, we discuss the expanding and interconnected roles of caspases that highlight new aspects of this family of cysteine proteases in innate immunity.

Concepts: Immune system, Cytokine, Innate immune system, Apoptosis, Interferon, Programmed cell death, Caspase, Anoikis


The promising combination of natural product leads and their derivatization by isocyanide-based multicomponent reactions (IMCRs) has gained interest in accessing diversity-oriented libraries with auspicious pharmacological potential. Therefore, a set of 34 Ugi and 3 Passerini products was successfully synthesized starting from naturally occurring triterpenoids, i.e. oleanolic acid (OA) and maslinic acid (MA), followed by a biological evaluation of the novel α-acylamino carboxamides and the α-acyloxy carboxamides in colorimetric SRB assays to determine their cytotoxic potential. Especially, the MA-Ugi products 6a, 6b and 7b showed a remarkable cytotoxicity for A2780 ovarian carcinoma cells in a low μM range. Compounds 6a and 7b induced programmed cell death in part through the apoptosis pathway.

Concepts: Cell, Apoptosis, Adenocarcinoma, Cytotoxicity, Novel, Programmed cell death, Caspase, Anoikis


One new 1,3-diphenylpropane (1) together with six known analogues (2-7) were firstly isolated from the stem and root bark of Daphne giraldii. Their structures were determined by comprehensive NMR and HRESIMS spectroscopic data analyses. All the isolates were evaluated for their cytotoxicity against two hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines (HepG2 and Hep3B). Among them, compound 5 showed the most significant cytotoxicity against Hep3B cells, with an IC50value of 17.21 μM. A further study demonstrated that 5 obviously induced apoptotic cell death as well as the inactivation of nuclear factor kappa B p65 (NF-κB p65) in Hep3B cells. In addition, BAY 11-7082 (BAY), a NF-кB inhibitor, was used to determine the role of NF-кB signaling in 5-treated Hep3B cells. The results suggested that BAY could enhance 5-induced apoptosis of Hep3B cells. In conclusion, the data provided that 5 might be a potential candidate for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma through NF-κB inhibition.

Concepts: Cell, Cancer, Apoptosis, Programmed cell death, Vesicle, Caspase, Anoikis, NF-κB


TNF signaling is directly linked to cancer development and progression. A broad range of tumor cells is able to evade cell death induced by TNF impairing the potential anti-cancer value of TNF in therapy. Although sensitizing cells to TNF-induced death therefore has great clinical implications, detailed mechanistic insights into TNF-mediated human cell death still remain unknown. Here, we analyzed human cells by applying CRISPR/Cas9n to generate cells deficient of IKK1, IKK2, IKK1/2 and RELA. Despite stimulation with TNF resulted in impaired NF-κB activation in all genotypes compared to wildtype cells, increased cell death was observable only in IKK1/2-double-deficient cells. Cell death could be detected by Caspase-3 activation and binding of Annexin V. TNF-induced programmed cell death in IKK1/2-/-cells was further shown to be mediated via RIPK1 in a predominantly apoptotic manner. Our findings demonstrate the IKK complex to protect from TNF-induced cell death in human cells independently to NF-κB RelA suggesting IKK1/2 to be highly promising targets for cancer therapy.

Concepts: Gene, Cancer, Apoptosis, Tumor, Cell type, Programmed cell death, Caspase, Anoikis


Apoptosis not only eliminates cells that are damaged or dangerous but also cells whose function during development in patterning or organogenesis is complete. The successful formation of germ cells is essential for the perpetuation of a species. The production of an oocyte often depends on signaling between germline and somatic cells, but also between specialized types of somatic cells. In Drosophila, each developing egg chamber is separated from the next by a single file of interfollicular somatic cells. Little is known about the function of the interfollicular stalk, although its presumed role in separating egg chambers it to ensure that patterning cues from one egg chamber do not impact or disrupt the development of adjacent egg chambers. We found that cells comprising the stalk undergo a progressive decrease in number during oogenesis through an apoptotic-dependent loss. The extent of programmed cell death is restricted by JAK/STAT signaling in a cell-autonomous manner to ensure that the stalk is maintained. Both a failure to undergo the normal reduction in stalk cell number, or to prevent excessive stalk cell apoptosis results in a decrease in fecundity. Thus, activation of JAK/STAT signaling in the Drosophila interfollicular stalk emerges as a model to study the tight regulation of signaling-dependent apoptosis.

Concepts: Gene, Developmental biology, Apoptosis, Meiosis, Programmed cell death, Caspase, Somatic cell, Anoikis