FLASH knockdown sensitizes cells to fas-mediated apoptosis via down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic proteins, MCL-1 and Cflip short

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FLASH (FLICE-associated huge protein or CASP8AP2) is a large multifunctional protein that is involved in many cellular processes associated with cell death and survival. It has been reported to promote apoptosis, but we show here that depletion of FLASH in HT1080 cells by siRNA interference can also accelerate the process. As shown previously, depletion of FLASH halts growth by down-regulating histone biosynthesis and arrests the cell cycle in S-phase. FLASH knockdown followed by stimulating the cells with Fas ligand or anti-Fas antibodies was found to be associated with a more rapid cleavage of PARP, accelerated activation of caspase-8 and the executioner caspase-3 and rapid progression to cellular disintegration. As is the case for most anti-apoptotic proteins, FLASH was degraded soon after the onset of apoptosis. Depletion of FLASH also resulted in the reduced intracellular levels of the anti-apoptotic proteins, MCL-1 and the short isoform of cFLIP. FLASH knockdown in HT1080 mutant cells defective in p53 did not significantly accelerate Fas mediated apoptosis indicating that the effect was dependent on functional p53. Collectively, these results suggest that under some circumstances, FLASH suppresses apoptosis.

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