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Determinants of the nuclear localization of the heterodimeric DNA fragmentation factor (ICAD/CAD).

ABSTRACT: Programmed cell death or apoptosis leads to the activation of the caspase-activated DNase (CAD), which degrades chromosomal DNA into nucleosomal fragments. Biochemical studies revealed that CAD forms an inactive heterodimer with the inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase (ICAD), or its alternatively spliced variant, ICAD-S, in the cytoplasm. It was initially proposed that proteolytic cleavage of ICAD by activated caspases causes the dissociation of the ICAD/CAD heterodimer and the translocation of active CAD into the nucleus in apoptotic cells. Here, we show that endogenous and heterologously expressed ICAD and CAD reside predominantly in the nucleus in nonapoptotic cells. Deletional mutagenesis and GFP fusion proteins identified a bipartite nuclear localization signal (NLS) in ICAD and verified the function of the NLS in CAD. The two NLSs have an additive effect on the nuclear targeting of the CAD-ICAD complex, whereas ICAD-S, lacking its NLS, appears to have a modulatory role in the nuclear localization of CAD. Staurosporine-induced apoptosis evoked the proteolysis and disappearance of endogenous and exogenous ICAD from the nuclei of HeLa cells, as monitored by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence microscopy. Similar phenomenon was observed in the caspase-3-deficient MCF7 cells upon expressing procaspase-3 transiently. We conclude that a complex mechanism, involving the recognition of the NLSs of both ICAD and CAD, accounts for the constitutive accumulation of CAD/ICAD in the nucleus, where caspase-3-dependent regulation of CAD activity takes place.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2180231 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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