c-FLIP protects T lymphocytes from apoptosis in the intrinsic pathway.
Apoptosis can be induced by either death receptors on the plasma membrane (extrinsic pathway) or the damage of the genome and/or cellular organelles (intrinsic pathway). Previous studies suggest that cellular caspase 8 (FLICE)-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) promotes cell survival in death receptor-induced apoptosis pathway in T lymphocytes. Independent of death receptor signaling, mitochondria sense apoptotic stimuli and mediate the activation of effector caspases. Whether c-FLIP regulates mitochondrion-dependent apoptotic signals remains unknown. In this study, c-FLIP gene was deleted in mature T lymphocytes in vitro, and the role of c-FLIP protein in intrinsic apoptosis pathway was studied. In resting T cells treated with the intrinsic apoptosis inducer, c-FLIP suppressed cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Bim-deletion rescued the enhanced apoptosis in c-FLIP-deficient T cells, whereas inhibition of caspase 8 did not. Different from activated T cells, there was no necroptosis or increase in reactive oxygen species in c-FLIP-deficient resting T cells. These data suggest that c-FLIP is a negative regulator of intrinsic apoptosis pathway in T lymphocytes.
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