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Feb 2006 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Regulation of apoptosis by the p8/prothymosin alpha complex.


Malicet C, Giroux V, Vasseur S, Dagorn JC, Neira JL, Iovanna JL


p8 is a small-stress protein involved in several cellular functions including apoptosis. To identify its putative partners, we screened a HeLa cDNA library by using the two-hybrid technique and found that p8 binds the antiapoptotic protein prothymosin alpha (ProTalpha). Fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, and NMR spectroscopy showed that p8 and ProTalpha formed a complex. Binding resulted in important changes in the secondary and tertiary structures of the proteins. Because p8 and ProTalpha form a complex, they could act in concert to regulate the apoptotic cascade. We induced apoptosis in HeLa cells by staurosporine treatment and monitored the effects of knocking down p8 and/or ProTalpha or overexpressing p8 and/or ProTalpha on caspase 3/7 and 9 activities and on cell death. Transfecting ProTalpha or p8 small interfering RNAs increased the activities of both caspases and the number of apoptotic nuclei. However, transfecting both small interfering RNAs resulted in no further increase. Overexpressing p8 or ProTalpha did not alter caspase activities, whereas overexpressing both resulted in a significant reduction of caspase activities. These results strongly suggest that the antiapoptotic response of HeLa cells upon staurosporine treatment requires expression of both p8 and ProTalpha.

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