A population of PC12 cells that is initiating apoptosis can be rescued by nerve growth factor

Fleur François, Maria João Godinho, Mike Dragunow, Mark L. Grimes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, occurs asynchronously in neuronal cells. To overcome this asynchrony, rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells were separated at different stages of apoptosis on the basis of cell density. Live cells that exhibited no apoptotic features floated to the top of density gradients. The most dense cells showed extensive loss of cytochrome c from mitochondria, caspase activation, chromatin condensation, and DNA fragmentation. These cells were committed to apoptosis and could not be rescued by reculturing in with nerve growth factor (NGF). Cells of intermediate density displayed no DNA fragmentation, but had begun to show cytochrome c loss, caspase activation, and chromatin condensation. This population displayed upregulation of the prodeath factor, c-Jun, and downregulation of prosurvival kinase, Akt. Importantly, apoptosis was reversible by NGF in this population. These studies suggest that increased cell density correlates with an initial step in the apoptosis mechanism that precedes irreversible commitment to suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-362
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

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