The Journal of cell biology

Simple epithelium keratins 8 and 18 provide resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis. The protection occurs through a receptor-targeting modulation.

PMID 11514590


Keratins 8 and 18 belong to the keratin family of intermediate filament (IF) proteins and constitute a hallmark for all simple epithelia, including the liver. Hepatocyte IFs are made solely of keratins 8 and 18 (K8/K18). In these cells, the loss of one partner via a targeted null mutation in the germline results in hepatocytes lacking K8/K18 IFs, thus providing a model of choice for examining the function(s) of simple epithelium keratins. Here, we report that K8-null mouse hepatocytes in primary culture and in vivo are three- to fourfold more sensitive than wild-type (WT) mouse hepatocytes to Fas-mediated apoptosis after stimulation with Jo2, an agonistic antibody of Fas ligand. This increased sensitivity is associated with a higher and more rapid caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation. In contrast, no difference in apoptosis is observed between cultured K8-null and WT hepatocytes after addition of the Fas-related death-factors tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha or TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. Analyses of the Fas distribution in K8-null and WT hepatocytes in culture and in situ demonstrate a more prominent targeting of the receptor to the surface membrane of K8-null hepatocytes. Moreover, altering Fas trafficking by disrupting microtubules with colchicine reduces by twofold the protection generated against Jo2-induced lethal action in K8-null versus WT hepatocytes. Together, the results strongly suggest that simple epithelium K8/K18 provide resistance to Fas-mediated apoptosis and that this protection occurs through a modulation of Fas targeting to the cell surface.