MG132 induced apoptosis is associated with p53-independent induction of pro-apoptotic Noxa and transcriptional activity of beta-catenin.

Research paper by M M Jüllig, W V WV Zhang, A A Ferreira, N S NS Stott

Indexed on: 05 May '06Published on: 05 May '06Published in: Apoptosis


Noxa is a pro-apoptotic BH3-only member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins that is up-regulated at a transcriptional level by the nuclear protein p53 in response to cellular stresses such as DNA damage or growth factor deprivation. Noxa is able to interact with anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family and causes release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, leading to the activation of caspases and induction of apoptosis. Here we demonstrate that MG132, a proteasomal inhibitor, rapidly induces Noxa mRNA and protein in two human cell lines, T/C28a and Saos2. The induction of Noxa is associated with a significant reduction in the number of metabolically active cells over the first 24 h of exposure to MG132 and progressive activation of caspase-3, a hallmark of caspase-dependent apoptosis. Partial rescue of the phenotype is observed when cells are transfected with Noxa siRNA prior to treatment with MG132, indicating functional significance of the induction of Noxa. p53 has previously been shown to be non-functional in the T/C28a cell line and is absent by Western blotting in Saos2 cells, suggesting that the induction of Noxa is through a p53 independent mechanism. Western blotting and confocal microscopy showed that total beta-catenin protein is increased in both cell lines at the time of Noxa induction, with the bulk of the beta-catenin present in the nucleus. Transfection with the Tcf reporter vector pTOPFLASH confirms that treatment with MG132 leads to early increased transcriptional activity of beta-catenin in both T/C28a and Saos2 cells. However, although over-expression of transcriptionally active beta-catenin in T/C28a cells also induced apoptosis through a p53-independent mechanism, the levels of Noxa protein were unchanged, suggesting that beta-catenin mediated signaling and Noxa may play independent roles in MG132 induced apoptosis. In summary, our results demonstrate that MG132 induces the pro-apoptotic protein Noxa via a p53-independent mechanism that leads to caspase-dependent apoptosis. This is the first report showing that treatment with MG132 induces Noxa. This study also provides further evidence for a link between beta-catenin mediated signaling and the induction of apoptosis.