Recent studies indicating a role of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) in apoptosis or oxidative stress has been reported. Using confocal laser-scanning microscopy, we have investigated the cellular distribution of GAPDH in central nervous system (CNS)-derived cells (neuroblastoma mNB41A3), in non-CNS derived cells (R6 fibroblast) and in an apoptosis-resistant Bcl2 overexpressing cell line (R6-Bcl2). Induction of apoptosis by staurosporine or MG132 and oxidative stress by H(2)O(2) or FeCN enhanced the nuclear translocation of endogenous GAPDH in all cell types, as detected by immunocytochemistry. In apoptotic cells, GAPDH expression is three times higher than in non-apoptotic cells. Consistent with a role for GAPDH in apoptosis, overexpression of a GAPDH-green fluorescent protein (GAPDH-GFP) hybrid increased nuclear import of GAPDH-GFP into transfected cells and the number of apoptotic cells, and made them more sensitive to agents that induce apoptosis. Bcl2 overexpression prevents nuclear translocation of GAPDH and apoptosis in untransfected cells, but not in transfected cells that overexpress GAPDH-GFP. Our observations indicate that nuclear translocation of GAPDH may play a role in apoptosis and oxidative stress, probably related to the activity of GAPDH as a DNA repair enzyme or as a nuclear carrier for pro-apoptotic molecules.
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