Cleavage of FLICE (caspase-8) by granzyme B during cytotoxic T lymphocyte-induced apoptosis

Eur J Immunol. 1997 Dec;27(12):3492-8. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830271250.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes induce apoptosis in target cells through the CD95(APO-1/Fas) and the perforin/granzyme B (GrB) pathway. The exact substrate of GrB in vivo is still unknown, but to induce apoptosis GrB requires the activity of caspases in target cells. We show here that in HeLa target cells induction of apoptosis through the perforin/GrB pathway resulted in minor direct cleavage of CPP32 (caspase-3) by GrB. Most caspase-3 cleavage resulted from activation of an upstream caspase. Moreover, target cells derived from caspase-3(-/-) mice displayed GrB-induced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage with only partially reduced efficiency compared to wild-type target cells. This indicates that other PARP-cleaving caspases can be activated during perforin/GrB-induced cell death. In contrast to caspase-3, FLICE (caspase-8) was directly cleaved by GrB in HeLa cells. We therefore conclude that FLICE not only plays a central role in CD95(APO-1/Fas)-induced apoptosis but can also be directly activated during perforin/GrB-induced apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Caspase 8
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • Granzymes
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Serine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • fas Receptor / immunology


  • fas Receptor
  • GZMB protein, human
  • Granzymes
  • Gzmb protein, mouse
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • CASP8 protein, human
  • CASP9 protein, human
  • Casp8 protein, mouse
  • Casp9 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 8
  • Caspase 9
  • Caspases
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases