British journal of cancer

Characterisation of the anti-apoptotic function of survivin-DeltaEx3 during TNFalpha-mediated cell death.

PMID 17505517


Survivin is an oncogenic protein involved in cell division and acts as an anti-apoptotic factor. It is highly expressed in most cancers and is associated with chemotherapy resistance, increased tumour recurrence, and shorter patient survival. This makes anti-survivin therapy an attractive cancer treatment strategy. These functions are mediated by several survivin spliced variants, whose expression may correlate with cancer progression. One of the spliced variants, survivin-DeltaEx3, is known to inhibit apoptosis, through undefined mechanisms. Here, we characterised these mechanisms upon TNFalpha-mediated apoptosis, and showed that survivin-DeltaEx3 acts as an adaptor, allowing the formation of a complex between Bcl-2 and activated caspase-3. The Bcl-2/survivin-DeltaEx3 complex, but not survivin-DeltaEx3 itself, inhibits the activity of caspase-3. Bcl-2 is therefore linked to the postmitochondrial apoptotic machinery by survivin-DeltaEx3. Thus, survivin-DeltaEx3 plays a key role in the inhibition of caspase-3 activity, and in the control of the mitochondrial checkpoint of apoptosis. This study suggests that targeting survivin-DeltaEx3, rather than survivin alone, could be relevant for treating human cancers.