Bcl-2–regulated apoptosis and cytochrome c release can occur independently of both caspase-2 and caspase-9 Academic Article uri icon


  • Apoptosis in response to developmental cues and stress stimuli is mediated by caspases that are regulated by the Bcl-2 protein family. Although caspases 2 and 9 have each been proposed as the apical caspase in that pathway, neither is indispensable for the apoptosis of leukocytes or fibroblasts. To investigate whether these caspases share a redundant role in apoptosis initiation, we generated caspase-2−/−9−/− mice. Their overt phenotype, embryonic brain malformation and perinatal lethality mirrored that of caspase-9−/− mice but were not exacerbated. Analysis of adult mice reconstituted with caspase-2−/−9−/− hematopoietic cells revealed that the absence of both caspases did not influence hematopoietic development. Furthermore, lymphocytes and fibroblasts lacking both remained sensitive to diverse apoptotic stimuli. Dying caspase-2−/−9−/− lymphocytes displayed multiple hallmarks of caspase-dependent apoptosis, including the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, and their demise was antagonized by several caspase inhibitors. These findings suggest that caspases other than caspases 2 and 9 can promote cytochrome c release and initiate Bcl-2–regulated apoptosis.


  • Marsden, Vanessa S
  • Ekert, Paul G
  • Van Delft, Mark
  • Vaux, David L
  • Adams, Jerry M
  • Strasser, Andreas

publication date

  • June 21, 2004