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TNFα-Induced Apoptosis Enabled by CCN1/CYR61: Pathways of Reactive Oxygen Species Generation and Cytochrome c Release

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031303
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Signal Transduction
  • Signaling In Cellular Processes
  • Signaling In Selected Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Although TNFα is a strong inducer of apoptosis, its cytotoxicity in most normal cells in vitro requires blockade of NFκB signaling or inhibition of de novo protein synthesis, typically by the addition of cycloheximide. However, several members of CCN (CYR61/CTGF/NOV) family of extracellular matrix proteins enable TNFα-dependent apoptosis in vitro without inhibiting NFκB or de novo protein synthesis, and CCN1 (CYR61) is essential for optimal TNFα cytotoxicity in vivo. Previous studies showed that CCN1 unmasks the cytotoxicity of TNFα by binding integrins αvβ5, α6β1, and the cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan 4 to induce the accumulation of a high level of reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to a biphasic activation of JNK necessary for apoptosis. Here we show for the first time that CCN1 interacts with the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) in a protein complex, and that binding to LRP1 is critical for CCN1-induced ROS generation and apoptotic synergism with TNFα. We also found that neutral sphingomyelinase 1 (nSMase1), which contributes to CCN1-induced ROS generation, is required for CCN1/TNFα-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, CCN1 promotes the activation of p53 and p38 MAPK, which mediate enhanced cytochrome c release to amplify the cytotoxicity of TNFα. By contrast, LRP1, nSMase1, p53, and p38 MAPK are not required when TNFα-dependent apoptosis is facilitated by the presence of cycloheximide, indicating that they function in the CCN1 signaling pathway that converges with TNFα-induced signaling events. Since CCN1/CYR61 is a physiological regulator of TNFα cytotoxicity at least in some contexts, these findings may reveal important mediators of TNFα-induced apoptosis in vivo and identify potential therapeutic targets for thwarting TNFα-dependent tissue damage.

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