Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

B cell receptor cross-linking triggers a caspase-8-dependent apoptotic pathway that is independent of the death effector domain of Fas-associated death domain protein.

PMID 11441077


We have previously reported that B cell receptors, depending on the degree to which they are cross-linked, can promote apoptosis in various human B cell types. In this study, we show that B cell receptors can trigger two apoptotic pathways according to cross-linking and that these pathways control mitochondrial activation in human Burkitt's lymphoma cells. Whereas soluble anti-mu Ab triggers caspase-independent mitochondrial activation, cross-linked anti-mu Ab induces an apoptotic response associated with a caspase-dependent loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential. This B cell receptor-mediated caspase-dependent mitochondrial activation is associated with caspase-8 activation. We show here that caspase-8 inhibitors strongly decrease cross-linking-dependent B cell receptor-mediated apoptosis in Burkitt's lymphoma BL41 cells. These inhibitors act upstream from the mitochondria as they prevented the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential observed in B cell receptor-treated BL41 cells. Caspase-8 activation in these cells was also evident from the detection of cleaved fragments of caspase-8 and the cleavage of specific substrates, including Bid. Our data show that cross-linked B cell receptors induced an apoptotic pathway involving sequential caspase-8 activation, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and the activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Cells expressing a dominant negative mutant of Fas-associated death domain protein were sensitive to cross-linked B cell receptor-induced caspase-8 activation and apoptosis; therefore, this caspase-8 activation was independent of the death effector domain of Fas-associated death domain protein.