Cell death by apoptosis is involved in the maintenance of T cell receptor diversity, self tolerance, and T-cell number homeostasis. Until recently, apoptosis was thought to require caspase activation. Evidence is now accumulating that a caspase-independent pathway exists, shown by in vitro experiments with broad-range caspase inhibitors. Mature T lymphocytes readily undergo caspase-independent apoptosis in vitro, and recent data suggest that this type of apoptosis may be involved in the negative selection of thymocytes. Mitochondria likely release death triggers specific for both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent apoptotic pathways (cytochrome c and AIF respectively) in response to apoptotic stimuli. A caspase-independent pathway is triggered first in activated T lymphocytes subjected to apoptotic stimuli that do not rely on receptors with death domains. In this pathway, the early commitment phase to apoptosis involves cell shrinkage, peripheral DNA condensation and the translocation of mitochondrial AIF to the cytosol and nucleus. This process is reversible until mitochondrial cytochrome c is released and ΔΨm dissipated. Only at this stage are caspases activated.
Apoptosis – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2004
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