Actin Cleavage in Various Tumor Cells is not a Critical requirement for executing apoptosis

Renee L RICE1, Dean G TANG2, John D TAYLOR1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA
2Department of Radiation Oncology, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA


Actin is a major cytoskeletal protein which is involved in many physiological cellular functions such as motility, cell shape, and adhesion. Recently, actin has also been reported to be cleaved by apoptotic proteases (i.e., caspases) and this cleavage is thought to contribute to the apoptotic process. However, conflicting data also exists as to whether actin represents a true caspase substrate during apoptosis induction in vivo (i.e., inside the cells). In this study, we critically examined the actin cleavage patterns during apoptosis of several tumor cell lines derived from three different species (i.e., mouse, rat, and human). Our findings demonstrate that: 1) actin cleavage in vivo is not a common phenomenon since apoptosis caused by multiple inducers in most cell types examined occurs without evidence of actin degradation; and 2) in certain cell types (e.g., U937), spontaneous, actin cleavage is observed which is not prevented by various specific chemical/peptide inhibitors of proteases such as caspases or serine proteases although apoptosis per se is retarded by some of these inhibitors. Our results conclude that actin is not a critical substrate for apoptotic proteases in vivo during apoptosis. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 4, Nr 2, 135-145, 1998

Key words: actin cleavage; apoptosis; caspase

Received: May 12, 1998; accepted: Jun 5, 1998
Correspondence: John D TAYLOR, Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, 2105 Biological Science Bldg. Detroit 48202, USA; Tel: (313)5772877, Fax: (313)5771093; E-mail:

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