Toxicology and applied pharmacology

The cathepsin B inhibitor, z-FA-CMK is toxic and readily induced cell death in human T lymphocytes.

PMID 23933532


The cathepsin B inhibitor, benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-chloromethylketone (z-FA-CMK) was found to be toxic and readily induced cell death in the human T cell line, Jurkat, whereas two other analogs benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-fluoromethylketone (z-FA-FMK) and benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-diazomethylketone (z-FA-DMK) were not toxic. The toxicity of z-FA-CMK requires not only the CMK group, but also the presence of alanine in the P1 position and the benzyloxycarbonyl group at the N-terminal. Dose-response studies showed that lower concentrations of z-FA-CMK induced apoptosis in Jurkat T cells whereas higher concentrations induced necrosis. In z-FA-CMK-induced apoptosis, both initiator caspases (-8 and -9) and effector caspases (-3, -6 and -7) were processed to their respective subunits in Jurkat T cells. However, only the pro-form of the initiator caspases were reduced in z-FA-CMK-induced necrosis and no respective subunits were apparent. The caspase inihibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-valine-alanine-aspartic acid-(O-methyl)-fluoromehylketone (z-VAD-FMK) inhibits apoptosis and caspase processing in Jurkat T cells treated with low concentration of z-FA-CMK but has no effect on z-FA-CMK-induced necrosis and the loss of initiator caspases. This suggests that the loss of initiator caspases in Jurkat T cells during z-FA-CMK-induced necrosis is not a caspase-dependent process. Taken together, we have demonstrated that z-FA-CMK is toxic to Jurkat T cells and induces apoptosis at low concentrations, while at higher concentrations the cells die of necrosis.