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Active caspase-3 is removed from cells by release of caspase-3-enriched vesicles

Boing AN, Stap J, Hau CM, Afink GB, Ris-Stalpers C, Reits EA, Sturk A, van Noorden CJ, Nieuwland R.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Cell Research, 2013 - 1833 (8): 1844-1852

Cleavage of Rho associated Coiled Coil kinase I (ROCK I) by caspase-3 contributes to membrane blebbing. Whether caspase-3 and ROCK I also play a role in the release of membrane vesicles is unknown. Therefore, we transfected a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) that is caspase-3 deficient, lacks membrane blebbing, and does not release membrane vesicles, with caspase-3. Cells expressing caspase-3 demonstrate both ROCK I-mediated membrane blebbing, and release of small (400_600 nm) membrane vesicles in a ROCK I-independent manner. These membrane vesicles contain caspase-3, and are enriched in caspase-3 activity compared to the releasing cells. Caspase-3-containing vesicles are taken up by untransfected cells but the cells do not show any sign of apoptosis. In conclusion, we show that the release of caspase-3-enriched membrane vesicles and membrane blebbing are two differentially regulated processes. Furthermore, we hypothesize that packaging of caspase-3 into membrane vesicles contributes to cellular homeostasis by the removal of caspase-3, and concurrently, protects the cells' environment from direct exposure to caspase-3 activity.

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