An IRF-1-dependent pathway of DNA damage-induced apoptosis in mitogen-activated T lymphocytes

Nature. 1995 Aug 17;376(6541):596-9. doi: 10.1038/376596a0.


Lymphocytes are particularly susceptible to DNA damage-induced apoptosis, a response which may serve as a form of 'altruistic suicide' to counter their intrinsic high potential for mutation and clonal expansion. The tumour suppressor p53 has been shown to regulate this type of apoptosis in thymocytes, but an as yet unknown, p53-independent pathway(s) appears to mediate the same event in mitogen-activated mature T lymphocytes. Here we show DNA damage-induced apoptosis in these T lymphocytes is dependent on the antioncogenic transcription factor interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1. Thus two different anti-onco-genic transcription factors, p53 and IRF-1, are required for distinct apoptotic pathways in T lymphocytes. We also show that mitogen induction of the interleukin-1 beta converting enzyme (ICE) gene, a mammalian homologue of the Caenorhabditis elegans cell death gene ced-3, is IRF-1-dependent. Ectopic overexpression of IRF-1 results in the activation of the endogenous gene for ICE and enhances the sensitivity of cells to radiation-induced apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Apoptosis* / immunology
  • Apoptosis* / radiation effects
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caspase 1
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Concanavalin A / immunology
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / genetics
  • DNA
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Gamma Rays
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-1
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • IRF1 protein, human
  • Interferon Regulatory Factor-1
  • Irf1 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Concanavalin A
  • DNA
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Caspase 1