Little is known about the cellular mechanisms modulating the shift in balance from a state of survival to cell death by caspase-mediated apoptosis in response to a lethal stress. Here we show that the RNA-binding protein HuR has an important function in mediating this switch. During caspase-mediated apoptosis, HuR is cleaved to generate two cleavage products (CPs). Our data demonstrate that the cleavage of HuR switches its function from being a prosurvival factor under normal conditions to becoming a promoter of apoptosis in response to a lethal stress. In the absence of an apoptotic stimuli, HuR associates with and promotes the expression of caspase-9 and prothymosin (ProT) mRNAs, and pro-and antiapoptotic factors, respectively, both of which have been characterized as important players in determining cell fate. During the early steps of caspase-mediated apoptosis, however, the level of caspase-9 protein increases, while ProT remains unchanged. Under these conditions, the two HuR-CPs selectively bind to and stabilize caspase-9 mRNA, but do not bind to ProT. Hence, taken together, our data show that by maintaining a threshold of expression of proapoptotic factors such as caspase-9 in response to a lethal stress, the HuR-CPs help a cell to switch from resisting death to undergoing apoptosis. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
Bibliographical noteGenerated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-13
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology