The globotriaosylceramide Gb3 is a glycosphingolipid expressed on a subpopulation of germinal center B lymphocytes which has been recognized as the B cell differentiation antigen CD77. Among tumoral cell types, Gb3/CD77 is strongly expressed in Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells as well as other solid tumors including breast, testicular and ovarian carcinomas. One known ligand of Gb3/CD77 is Verotoxin-1 (VT-1), a Shiga toxin produced in specific E. coli strains. Previously, we have reported that in BL cells, VT-1 induces apoptosis via a caspase-dependent and mitochondria-dependent pathway. Yet, the respective roles of various apoptogenic factors remained to be deciphered. Here, this apoptotic pathway was found to require cleavage of the BID protein by caspase-8 as well as activation of two other apoptogenic proteins, BAK and BAX. Surprisingly however, t-BID, the truncated form of BID resulting from caspase-8 cleavage, played no role in the conformational changes of BAK and BAX. Rather, their activation occurred under the control of full length BID (FL-BID). Indeed, introducing a non-cleavable form of BID (BID-D59A) into BID-deficient BL cells restored BAK and BAX activation following VT-1 treatment. Still, t-BID was involved along with FL-BID in the BAK-dependent and BAX-dependent cytosolic release of CYT C and SMAC/DIABLO from the mitochondrial intermembrane space: FL-BID was found to control the homo-oligomerization of both BAK and BAX, likely contributing to the initial release of CYT C and SMAC/DIABLO, while t-BID was needed for their hetero-oligomerization and ensuing release amplification. Together, our results reveal a functional cooperation between BAK and BAX during VT-1-induced apoptosis and, unexpectedly, that activation of caspase-8 and production of t-BID were not mandatory for initiation of the cell death process.
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Acknowledgements We thank Yann Lécluse (Imaging and Cytometry Platform, Institut Gustave Roussy) for expert technical assistance in performing flow cytometry analyses. We are very grateful to Hana Raslova and Julie Rivière (INSERM UMR 1170, Institut Gustave-Roussy) for their help in producing lentivirus and to Evelyne May and Martine Raphaël (UMR 8126 CNRS) for helpful discussions and suggestions. This work was supported by grants from the Fondation de France 2014 00047509 (JW), the Ligue National Contre le Cancer (doctoral fellowship to JD) and the Fondation ARC (doctoral fellowship to EH).
© 2018 The Authors.