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Apoptotic Pathways Are Selectively Activated By Granzyme A And/or Granzyme B In CTL-mediated Target Cell Lysis

Julián Pardo, Alberto Bosque, Reina Brehm, Reinhard Wallich, Javier Naval, Arno Müllbacher, Alberto Anel, Markus M. Simon

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Purified cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) proteases granzyme (gzm)A and gzmB with sublytic dose of perforin (perf) initiate distinct proapoptotic pathways. Their physiological relevance in CTL-mediated target cell apoptosis is elusive. Using ex vivo virus-immune CD8+ T cells from mice deficient in perf, gzmA and/or gzmB, and the Fas-resistant EL4.F15 tumor target cell, we show that (a) CTL from gzmA−/− or gzmB−/− mice similarly induced early proapoptotic features, such as phosphatidyl serine (PS) exposure on plasma membrane, ΔΨm loss, and reactive oxygen radical generation, though with distinct kinetics; (b) CTL from gzmA−/− but not from gzmB−/− mice activate caspase 3 and 9; (c) PS exposure induced by CTL from gzmA−/− or gzmB−/− mice is prevented, respectively, by caspase inhibitors or by reactive oxygen scavengers without interfering with target cell death; and (d) all gzm-induced apoptotic features analyzed depend critically on perf. Thus, perf is the principal regulator in CTL-mediated and gzm-facilitated intracellular processes. The ability of gzmA and gzmB to induce multiple independent cell death pathways may be the hosts response to circumvent evasion strategies of pathogens and tumors.