Acute heat shock can induce apoptosis through a canonical pathway involving the upstream activation of caspase-2, followed by BID cleavage and stimulation of the intrinsic pathway. Herein, we report that the BH3-only protein BIM, rather than BID, is essential to heat shock-induced cell death. We observed that BIM-deficient cells were highly resistant to heat shock, exhibiting short and long-term survival equivalent to Bax-/-Bak-/- cells and better than either Bid-/- or dominant-negative caspase-9-expressing cells. Only Bim-/- and Bax-/-Bak-/- cells exhibited resistance to mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization and loss of mitochondrial inner membrane potential. Moreover, while dimerized caspase-2 failed to induce apoptosis in Bid-/- cells, it readily did so in Bim-/- cells, implying that caspase-2 kills exclusively through BID, not BIM. Finally, BIM reportedly associates with MCL-1 following heat shock, and Mcl-1-/- cells were indeed sensitized to heat shock-induced apoptosis. However, pharmacological inhibition of BCL-2 and BCL-XL with ABT-737 also sensitized cells to heat shock, most likely through liberation of BIM. Thus, BIM mediates heat shock-induced apoptosis through a BAX/BAK-dependent pathway that is antagonized by antiapoptotic BCL-2 family members.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences