Caspase-9 is one caspase upstream of caspase-3 and its activation is stimulated by Apaf-1/cytochrome c and inhibited by Akt signals. BAD phosphorylation by Akt is an essential step for growth factor-mediated inhibition of caspase activation. Recently, it was shown that human caspase-9 is phosphorylated by Akt and that its protease activity is reduced. To clarify the molecular mechanism of regulation of caspase-9 activation in neuronal apoptosis, we isolated two alternative splicing products of mouse caspase-9, caspase-9L and caspase-9S, from a P19 embryonal carcinoma cell cDNA library. Curiously, the Akt phosphorylation sites and motifs found in human caspase-9 were absent in both mouse caspase-9L and -9S. Mouse caspase-9 was not phosphorylated by activated Akt in vitro. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that the absent Akt motif is not limited to caspase-9 expressed in P19 embryonal carcinoma cells but also occurs in caspase-9 expressed in mouse, rat, and monkey. These results suggest that inhibition of caspase-9 activation by Akt-dependent phosphorylation is not generalized across species.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.