Bz-423 superoxide signals apoptosis via selective activation of JNK, Bak, and Bax.

Free radical biology & medicine

PubMedID: 18718527

Blatt NB, Boitano AE, Lyssiotis CA, Opipari AW, Glick GD. Bz-423 superoxide signals apoptosis via selective activation of JNK, Bak, and Bax. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008;45(9):1232-42.
Bz-423 is a proapoptotic 1,4-benzodiazepine with potent therapeutic properties in murine models of lupus and psoriasis. Bz-423 modulates the F(1)F(0)-ATPase, inducing the formation of superoxide within the mitochondrial respiratory chain, which then functions as a second messenger initiating apoptosis. Herein, we report the signaling pathway activated by Bz-423 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts containing knockouts of key apoptotic proteins. Bz-423-induced superoxide activates cytosolic ASK1 and its release from thioredoxin. A mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade follows, leading to the specific phosphorylation of JNK. JNK signals activation of Bax and Bak which then induces mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization to cause the release of cytochrome c and a commitment to apoptosis. The response of these cells to Bz-423 is critically dependent on both superoxide and JNK activation as antioxidants and the JNK inhibitor SP600125 prevents Bax translocation, cytochrome c release, and cell death. These results demonstrate that superoxide generated from the mitochondrial respiratory chain as a consequence of a respiratory transition can signal a sequential and specific apoptotic response. Collectively, these data suggest that the selectivity of Bz-423 observed in vivo results from cell-type specific differences in redox balance and signaling by ASK1 and Bcl-2 proteins.