Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Granzyme B-activated p53 interacts with Bcl-2 to promote cytotoxic lymphocyte-mediated apoptosis.

PMID 25404359


Granzyme B (GzmB) plays a major role in CTLs and NK cell-mediated elimination of virus-infected cells and tumors. Human GzmB preferentially induces target cell apoptosis by cleaving the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bid, which, together with Bax, induces mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization. We previously showed that GzmB also induces a rapid accumulation of the tumor-suppressor protein p53 within target cells, which seems to be involved in GzmB-induced apoptosis. In this article, we show that GzmB-activated p53 accumulates on target cell mitochondria and interacts with Bcl-2. This interaction prevents Bcl-2 inhibitory effect on both Bax and GzmB-truncated Bid, and promotes GzmB-induced mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization. Consequently, blocking p53-Bcl-2 interaction decreases GzmB-induced Bax activation, cytochrome c release from mitochondria, and subsequent effector caspases activation leading to a decreased sensitivity of target cells to both GzmB and CTL/NK-mediated cell death. Together, our results define p53 as a new important player in the GzmB apoptotic signaling pathway and in CTL/NK-induced apoptosis.