Bax plays a pivotal role in thapsigargin-induced apoptosis of human colon cancer HCT116 cells by controlling Smac/Diablo and Omi/HtrA2 release from mitochondria.Cancer Res. 2003 Apr 01; 63(7):1483-9.CR
Bax is a crucial mediator of the mitochondrial pathway for apoptosis, and loss of this proapoptotic Bcl-2 family protein contributes to drug resistance in human cancers. We report here that the endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase inhibitor thapsigargin (THG) induces apoptosis of human colon cancer HCT116 cells through a Bax-dependent signaling pathway controlling the cytosolic release of mitochondrial apoptogenic molecules. Treating HCT116 cells with THG results in caspase-8 activation; Bid cleavage; Bax conformational change and mitochondrial translocation; the release of cytochrome c, Smac/Diablo, and Omi/HtrA2 into the cytosol; caspase-3 activation; and apoptosis. In contrast, knockout of Bax completely abrogates the full processing/activation of caspase-3 but has no effect on the processing of caspase-8 and the initial cleavage of caspase-3 to p24 fragment after THG treatment. The caspase-8-specific inhibitor z-IETD-fmk, as well as pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk, but not the calpain inhibitor E-64d, prevents Bid cleavage, Bax conformational change, and subsequent caspase-3 processing and apoptosis. Caspase-8 processing is dependent on de novo protein synthesis; DR5 expression is strongly up-regulated by THG treatment. Moreover, the absence of Bax blocks THG-induced Omi and Smac release from mitochondria, and expression of cytosolic Omi (GFP-IETD-Omi) or Smac (GFP-IETD-Smac) restores the sensitivity of Bax-knockout HCT116 cells to apoptosis in response to THG treatment. Taken together, our results indicate that Bax-dependent Smac and Omi release plays an essential role in caspase-3 activation and apoptosis induced by THG in human colon cancer HCT116 cells.