Calcium mobilization from the endoplasmic reticulum to the mitochondria during apoptosis in prostate cancer

Leta Kang Nutt, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Previous studies have implicated Ca2+ fluxes in the control of apoptosis but their exact roles in regulating the process remain obscure. Because Ca2+ can serve as a signal for cytochrome c release from isolated mitochondria, we hypothesized that alterations in intracellular Ca2+ compartmentalization might serve as a release signal in whole cells undergoing apoptosis. Exposure of human PC-3 prostate adenocarcinoma cells to staurosporine or DNA damaging agent (doxorubicin) but not to anti-Fas antibody led to early release of Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum and subsequent accumulation of Ca2+ within mitochondria. Both events were blocked in cells stably transfected with Bcl-2 but were not affected by treatment with the pancaspase inhibitor, zVADfmk. The effects of staurosporine were associated with re-localization of Bax from the cytosol to both endoplasmic reticular and mitochondrial membranes. Neither ER Ca 2+ pool depletion nor mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake were observed in DU-145 cells that possess a frameshift mutation in the Bax gene unless wild-type Bax was restored via adenoviral gene transfer. Cytochrome c release and downstream features of apoptosis were attenuated by treatment with an inhibitor of mitochondria) Ca2+ uptake (RU-360). Although, direct pharmacological ER Ca2+ pool emptying in cells treated with thapsigargin did not lead to early cytochrome c release, pretreatment of cells with staurosporine dramatically sensitized mitochondria to thapsigargin-induced cytochrome c release. Together, our data demonstrate that ER-to-mitochondrial Ca2+ fluxes promote cytochrome c release and apoptosis in cells exposed to some (but not all) pro-apoptosic stimuli.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Nutt, Leta Kang, "Calcium mobilization from the endoplasmic reticulum to the mitochondria during apoptosis in prostate cancer" (2002). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3046067.