Indexed on: 15 Jul '99Published on: 15 Jul '99Published in: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
In Caenorhabdtis elegans, Ced-3, Ced-4, and Ced-9 are components of a cell suicide program. Ced-4 facilitates the proteolytic activation of the caspase, Ced-3, while Ced-9 opposes Ced-3/Ced-4 killing. To examine the interactions among these proteins they were expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ced-3 and Ced-4 were lethal when expressed alone, revealing an intrinsic Ced-4 killing activity. Coexpression of Ced-9 blocked Ced-3- and Ced-4-induced killing, showing Ced-9 can independently antagonize the action of both proteins. Ced-3- but not Ced-4-toxicity was attenuated by coexpression of the caspase inhibitors, CrmA and p35. Thus, besides its Ced-3- and Ced-9-dependent action in C. elegans, Ced-4 has an additional Ced-9-dependent, Ced-3-independent killing mechanism in yeast. Two-hybrid analysis confirmed that Ced-4 formed heteromers with Ced-9. In addition, Ced-4 formed homomers and mutation of its nucleoside triphosphate binding motif eliminated both homomerization and cell killing. We suggest the caspase-independent lethality of Ced-4 in yeast is mediated by a Ced-4 homomer.