The lysosomal protease cathepsin D is translocated from lysosomes to the cytosol during apoptosis induced by oxidative stress. In the present studies, the redox-cycling, xenobiotic compound naphthazarin (5,8-dihydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone) was used to create oxidative stress in rat cardiomyocytes and human foreskin fibroblasts. In naphthazarin exposed cells, lysosomal release of cathepsin D preceded liberation of cytochrome c from mitochondria and a decrease in the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨm).
A pre-embedding immunocytochemical method was used for ultrastructural examination of cathepsin D and cytochrome c in cultured cells. Electron microscopic morphometry confirmed that a statistically significant amount of cathepsin D was transferred from lysosome-like structures to the cytosol before any biochemical or morphological signs of apoptosis were detected. Pretreatment of the cells with atocopherol succinate largely prevented translocation of cathepsin D and also significantly decreased apoptosis. Electron microscopy also revealed that, during exposure to naphthazarin, a minor release of cytochrome c has occured after one hour and a more extensive release after two hours, and these results were verified by Western blotting. After the translocation of cathepsin D and cytochrome c, a decrease in ΔΨm was detected using the ΔΨm-sensitive probe JC-1 and confocal microscopy or measured by flow cytornetry. Pretreatment with the cathepsin D inhibitor pepstatin A prevented release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, maintained the ΔΨm and inhibited apoptosis.
In conclusion, these findings show that translocation of cathepsin D precedes important incidents in mitochondria, such as release of cytochrome c and loss of ΔΨm during apoptosis induced by oxidative stress. Moreover, inhibition of cathepsin D prevented the apoptosis and the mitochondrial changes, which indicates that cathepsin D is an inducer of apoptosis upstream of cytochrome c release.
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2001. , 87 p.