PloS one

Increased μ-Calpain Activity in Blasts of Common B-Precursor Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Correlates with Their Lower Susceptibility to Apoptosis.

PMID 26317226


Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) blasts are characterized by inhibited apoptosis promoting fast disease progress. It is known that in chronic lymphocytic and acute myeloid leukemias the reduced apoptosis is strongly related with the activity of calpain-calpastatin system (CCS) composed of cytoplasmic proteases--calpains--performing the modulatory proteolysis of key proteins involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis, and of their endogenous inhibitor--calpastatin. Here, the CCS protein abundance and activity was for the first time studied in childhood ALL blasts and in control bone marrow CD19+ B cells by semi-quantitative flow cytometry and western blotting of calpastatin fragments resulting from endogenous calpain activity. Significantly higher μ-calpain (CAPN1) gene transcription, protein amounts and activity (but not those of m-calpain), with calpastatin amount and transcription of its gene (CAST) greatly varying were observed in CD19(+) ALL blasts compared to control cells. Significant inverse relation between the amount/activity of calpain and spontaneous apoptosis was noted. Patients older than 10 years (considered at higher risk) displayed increased amounts and activities of blast calpain. Finally, treatment of blasts with the tripeptide calpain inhibitors II and IV significantly and in dose-dependent fashion increased the percentage of blasts entering apoptosis. Together, these findings make the CCS a potential new predictive tool and therapeutic target in childhood ALL.

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Calpain Inhibitor II, powder