Raf-1 activation prevents caspase 9 processing downstream of apoptosome formation

J Signal Transduct. 2011;2011:834948. doi: 10.1155/2011/834948. Epub 2010 Oct 14.


In many cell types, growth factor removal induces the release of cytochrome-c from mitochondria that leads to activation of caspase-9 in the apoptosome complex. Here, we show that sustained stimulation of the Raf-1/MAPK1,3 pathway prevents caspase-9 activation induced by serum depletion in CCL39/ΔRaf-1:ER fibroblasts. The protective effect mediated by Raf-1 is sensitive to MEK inhibition that is sufficient to induce caspase-9 cleavage in exponentially growing cells. Raf-1 activation does not inhibit the release of cytochrome-c from mitochondria while preventing caspase-9 activation. Gel filtration chromatography analysis of apoptosome formation in cells shows that Raf-1/MAPK1,3 activation does not interfere with APAF-1 oligomerization and recruitment of caspase 9. Raf-1-mediated caspase-9 inhibition is sensitive to emetine, indicating that the protective mechanism requires protein synthesis. However, the Raf/MAPK1,3 pathway does not regulate XIAP. Taken together, these results indicate that the Raf-1/MAPK1,3 pathway controls an apoptosis regulator that prevents caspase-9 activation in the apoptosome complex.